Is There A Link Between Addiction and Dementia?

As dementia rates continue to skyrocket, many people wonder if there’s a connection between addiction and dementia. Although the answer is not entirely clear, many experts believe there may be a correlation between the two conditions. Understanding the link can help recovery experts better understand and care for those affected by dementia and addiction. Exploring the connection between addiction and dementia can also lead to new and improved treatments for both conditions.

Understanding Addiction

Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disorder characterized by an inability to control one’s use of drugs or alcohol, despite the negative consequences. People who are addicted often continue to use substances even when they face problems at work, school, or at home. They may even continue to use it despite health problems or financial difficulties.

There are many signs that someone may be struggling with addiction. These include changes in appearance, mood, and behavior. For example, someone who is addicted may start to neglect their appearance and let their hygiene slide. They may also become more withdrawn and isolate themselves from friends and family. Additionally, they may begin to miss work or school or no longer participate in activities that they once enjoyed. If you notice any of these changes in a loved one, it’s essential to reach out and get help.

Understanding Dementia

Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe various symptoms associated with a decline in brain function. These symptoms typically include problems with memory and language and difficulty problem-solving. More severe cases of dementia may also cause changes in mood and behavior. Most people with dementia may have trouble remembering recent events, making decisions, or solving problems. They may also be confused about time and place and lose interest in things they used to enjoy.

Even though dementia is most common in adults older than 65, dementia is not a normal part of aging. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, but there are many other causes, such as family history and certain medical conditions. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing dementia, but staying socially active, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and regularly exercising can help manage the condition.

Some of the most common signs of dementia include:

  • Declining problem-solving abilities
  • Loss of short-term memory
  • Loss of coordination and physical strength
  • Decreased concentration and poor focus
  • Forgetting relationships, names, and faces
  • An inability to complete essential self-care
  • Difficulty learning new information
  • Paranoia

Is There A Connection Between Addiction and Dementia?

A recent study has found a connection between addiction and dementia. The study, which was conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, found that people with dementia are more likely to develop addictions. The study also found that people with dementia are more likely to suffer from relapses. This can happen because dementia affects the part of the brain that controls judgment and decision-making. As a result, people with dementia may be more likely to make impulsive decisions, such as using drugs or alcohol, leading to addictive behaviors.

In addition to that:

  • Addiction can be a risk factor for dementia. Addiction can increase the risk of dementia because addiction can cause changes in the structure and function of the brain. These changes can impair a person’s ability to think clearly, make decisions, and control their emotions. As a result, people with addiction are more likely to experience cognitive decline and dementia. Even though addiction can increase the risk of dementia, not everyone with an addiction will develop the condition.
  • Many drugs and controlled substances block the action of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is important for memory, attention, and learning. Because of this connection to memory and the brain, the side effects of some anticholinergic drugs can include dementia-like symptoms, such as memory loss and confusion.
  • Both addiction and dementia are associated with decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is one of the most critical regions of the brain. This brain area helps regulate many higher-level cognitive functions, including planning, decision-making, and impulse control. Addictive substances decrease activity in the prefrontal cortex, increasing the risk of impulsive behavior. Dementia’s effects on the prefrontal cortex lead to a decline in judgment and social skills. Both addiction and dementia are associated with decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex.
  • Dementia may be caused by a build-up of toxins in the brain. While the exact cause of dementia is still unknown, recent research suggests that it may be caused by a build-up of toxins in the brain. These toxins can come from various sources, including pollution, alcohol, and cigarettes. However, the most common source of toxins is addiction. Drugs and alcohol increase the number of toxic substances in the brain, leading to dementia. In addition, addiction also damages the brain’s ability to remove these toxins, making people grappling with addiction more susceptible to dementia.
  • Both conditions are associated with similar lifestyle choices. While the exact mechanisms are not yet fully understood, it is clear that lifestyle choices play a significant role in developing both conditions. Poor diet, chronic stress, and limited social interaction have all been linked to changes in the brain that can lead to dementia. These same risk factors have also been associated with addiction.
  • Addiction and dementia share many of the same risk factors. Addiction and dementia share many risk factors, which is one of the reasons they are often comorbid. For example, dementia and addiction are more common in people who have a family history of the disease. Additionally, certain lifestyle choices can increase the risk of both dementia and addiction, such as smoking or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. People with mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety are also at an increased risk of dementia and addiction. Chronic stress has also been linked to both conditions.

Hope For A Better Tomorrow

Although more research is needed, exploring the link between addiction and dementia is essential. Doing so can help us better understand these conditions and may lead to new and improved treatments for addiction and dementia. Our treatment programs can help and give you hope for a better, healthier tomorrow. Contact us to learn more.

Innovative, Evidence-Based Therapies

Because mental health and addiction concerns are so often interconnected, we utilize research-based approaches with evidence-based outcomes that promote overall healing and recovery.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

This low-impact magnetic stimulation activates neurons inside the brain, relieving symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.

qEEG/Brain Mapping

Using brain scanning and readings, we create a map of our patients’ brains, helping us develop more targeted and effective treatments.


This process assists patients in visualizing their own brain functionality through continuous EEG readings.

Spravato Therapy

We use carefully monitored doses of Spravato to help patients struggling with complex mental health disorders, including severe depression.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Patients use this practice to help reframe intrusive or negative thought patterns and develop coping techniques for long-term recovery.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

This practice helps patients learn to regulate emotions, communicate more effectively, and process their own thoughts and feelings..

Eye Movement Desensitization (EMDR)

Licensed and trained therapists guide patients through this technique for managing stress and anxiety on an ongoing basis.

Individual Therapy

Patients experience one-on-one therapy sessions with a licensed therapist to provide a safe and private place to recover and heal.

Group/Family Therapy

Patients can practice the skills and techniques they have learned in treatment with others in a safe, therapist-guided space.

Contact StoneRidge Centers

5940 E. Copper Hill Dr. Ste B & E, Prescott Valley, AZ. 86314

We exercise progressive, leading brain science in our treatment approach for patients in our community and across the country who are struggling with mental health and addiction challenges.