BY Hermine Hilton
“America’s Memory Motivator’
[Hermine Hilton, one of America’s most popular speakers, is the author of several books on memory including “The Executive Memory Guide” (Simon&Schuster) and her latest book titled “Fuhhgeddaboutit!” (How To Stop Worrying About Your Memory). You may have heard her on Radio or seen her on Television with David Letterman; Charlie Rose; Matt Lauer; Bryant Gumbel, or a host of others. She is the creator of Sonik Memory and the memory motivator for the Fortune 500 Companies from Nordstrom to NASA, and is known internationally from the Netherlands to Nigeria, Turkey to Thailand, Italy to Israel, and almost all other points on the planet.
(She is also known as ‘The Lady On The Mountain’ to those of you in Malibu who drive Corral Canyon.)]
Reckoning With Recreational Drugs
(One prescribed drug they often ask me about is Adderall, which many students consider a great boon to their studying and test taking.)
Being a parent myself, I investigated the research on many of these drugs and I hope parents and students, alike, will share the results.
Since my June column covered how food and vitamins may or may not affect the memory, it seems apropos this month to cover those
Recreational ’I want to feel better’ drugs you may think of ingesting.
One thing is certain:
All drugs DO affect the mechanisms of the brain in some way.
However, all do NOT necessarily affect the memory adversely.
A lot depends on how much and how often.
Let’s start with the two LEGAL drugs of abuse, nicotine and alcohol:
These have already been proven to cause memory loss when used excessively. Smoking nicotine can bring on a stroke. This causes short-term memory loss and can trigger dementia. Excessive alcoholism can lead to brain cell death and short-term memory blackouts. It can also cause ‘Korsakoffs Syndrome’, which is a form of amnesia.
However, there are no studies that say that alcohol in moderation must be avoided (unless you have other health problems such as high blood pressure or are on medication). In fact, recent studies suggest a drink or two may help maintain brain function and reduce the risk of some dementias.
Puff, The Magic Dragon
Moving right along now, let’s talk about medical marijuana (since Ms. Jane seems to be very much in the news these days and often insistent upon invading the ballot booth):
You may be surprised to learn that many researchers report that smoking legally prescribed marijuana (cannabis) is less dangerous than both tobacco and alcohol. There is no clear proof that pot smoking shows permanent damage to the brain or short-term memory areas.
Indeed, some studies have found enhancement of particular types of memory. Its effects vary from case to case. Many people believe their memory on pot becomes elephantine. There are, however, masses of other cave dwellers happily convinced that smoking pot leaves them with the memory of a goldfish.
But even though cannabis may be considered by some researchers the lesser of The 3 Evils (nicotine/alcohol/Mary Jane) it can, however, if not medically prescribed, put you in a great deal of jeopardy (having nothing whatsoever to do with Alex Trebek).
As to the recreational ILLEGAL drugs of abuse, most researchers conclude that long time drug use fries your brain.
(Haven’t you seen the commercial?)
FYI but NHR (Not Highly Recommended)
Here’s what you’re in for:
Ecstasy—- Impairs memory and concentration, causes paranoia. Destroys brain cells, which may reconnect, but abnormally, after discontinued use.
LSD—- It’s a trip to paranoia, distortion, confusion, and, panic attacks (not a good time to do your taxes). It could stand for Levitated, Stimulated, and Decimated.
Steroids—- Cause moodiness and can permanently impair learning and memory abilities.
(But you’ll knock one out of the park and have a great bod!)
Heroin—-After the rush of pleasure, it leaves you in a fog.
(Just ask …Wild Bill Hickock.)
Inhalants—-BYOB of glue, gasoline, hair spray, and paint thinner and you can party. You’ll be sniffing your brain away along with your ability to learn and remember.
Speed—-This methamphetamine strongly stimulates the brain. Mix with meth and you may remember too much.
Cocaine—-Causes dramatic decrease in blood flow to the brain. It may not take your memory but you may lose your nose.
After researching all the dope about the ‘dope’, my basic advice would be to protect your memory by protecting your cerebrum.
If you crave stimulation………
Have a cup of coffee and a candy bar.
And What About Adderall?
Oh, about that Adderall so many students pass around and are so keen on —-
It may seem awesome and yes it does keep you awake and focused. And it does stimulate the memory (much like Speed) but there are certain elements that both parents & students should be aware of.
1. It is extremely addictive and there is a high potential for abuse.
2. You may suffer many derogatory effects after trying to stop, (including sleeplessness and major emotional psychological damage).
3. It is banned in many countries and in the U.S. it is a criminal offense to possess without a legitimate prescription.
A much better way for parents to help their children to raise their test scores is to learn together how to do Mental Filing which doesn’t necessitate the taking of drugs and I’ll discuss in a future column.
The Lady On The Mountain