The brain regions and neural processes that underlie addiction overlap extensively with those that support cognitive func- tions, including learning, memory, and reasoning. Drug activity in these regions and processes during early stages of abuse foster strong maladaptive associations between drug use and environmental stimuli that may underlie future cravings and drug-seeking behaviors. With continued drug use, cognitive deficits ensue that exacerbate the difficulty of establishing sus- tained abstinence. The developing brain is particularly susceptible to the effects of drugs of abuse; prenatal, childhood, and adolescent exposures produce long-lasting changes in cognition.
Patients with mental illness are at high risk for substance abuse, and the adverse impact on cognition may be particularly deleterious in combination with cognitive problems related to their mental disorders.