In a case where a person suffers amnesia, will he remember that he is a drug addict, or a chain-smoker? If yes, then can you please elaborate on the condition or the exception, whatever the case it might be?

Loss of memory, temporary or permanent, is known as Amnesia, which can broadly be divided into Retrograde amnesia, where patients can't recall events before the onset of amnesia, anterograde amnesia, where they can't retain memories after the onset of amnesia and post-traumatic amnesia when the memory loss is triggered by an accident or traumatic event. Amnesia usually affects factual recollection of people, places and events, rather than learned behavior. For instance, a professional violinist can forget he played the violin professionally, but will not forget how to play the violin. In the same way, an addiction to drugs or nicotine is a learned behavior where the body has become dependant on the drug, and not an event or action which can be wiped out from one's memory. So, a person may forget the people with whom he shared a cigarette or from where he procured his drugs, but his body's dependence on the drug will not disappear since that is a chemical alteration in the system which is not affected by loss of memory.

While many researches conducted point to drug abuse and alcoholism as the cause for amnesia, few have pointed to amnesia as a possible method of rehabilitation.

A recent research, conducted by neurological scientists at the Cambridge University, however pointed to the possibility that wiping out memories associated to the abuse of the drug, could help in rehabilitating the addict and preventing a relapse. Since most addicts relapse when they recall instances which are closely associated with the use of the drug, scientists found that blocking those memories could help in preventing a relapse. Using rats, the scientists conducted an experiment where the rats learnt to associate the turning on of light with receiving a cocaine dosage. The rats, which soon grew dependant on the cocaine, learnt quickly how to trigger the light switch, in order to reach their goal: the cocaine. However when these rats were given a chemical that interferes with working of the receptor that influences memory, the rats exhibited a considerable decrease in their behavior to seek the drug. This led the scientists to infer that rehabilitation treatments that seek to block the associative-memories could help reduce drug dependence over a period of time. The scientists believe this new approach could be ground-breaking in rehabilitation of chain-smokers and drug addicts. However, as of now, there has been no research conducted that can prove that amnesia blocks such associative memories and cures drug addiction or chain smoking.

answered by G M

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