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Drug-induced amnesia
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Drug-induced amnesia

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Contributors: Erin Keenan MLIS, Richard L. Barbano MD, PhD
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Synopsis

Drug-induced amnesia is impairment or loss of memory due to drug use. Drug-induced memory loss is typically anterograde, the inability to create new memories for a period of time beginning soon after drug introduction. Memory loss effects are generally transient and limited to short-term memory. Patients usually do not suffer from sustained impairment, and baseline memory function returns upon discontinuation of the drug. However, the amnesia from the period immediately after drug introduction may remain permanently. Rarely, some drugs may be able to induce retrograde memory loss, the inability to recall memories created prior to drug introduction.

Aged patients or patients with comorbid cognitive decline may be more likely to experience amnesia and may be more severely affected. General anesthesia, benzodiazepines, or sedatives can result in periods of amnesia. Drug-induced memory loss is an intentional therapeutic component during surgery or other procedures requiring sedation. Substances of abuse, such as alcohol or marijuana, can also result in amnesia. Amnesic drug effects are potentiated by alcohol.

Physicians should also be aware of drug-facilitated sexual assault in patients presenting with memory loss. Flunitrazepam and ketamine are known "date rape" drugs whose use can result in amnesia. Any other amnesic drug or a combination of these drugs and alcohol and/or other substances of abuse can be used in "date rape" situations.

Related topics: Transient global amnesia, Adult sexual abuse, Alcohol use disorder

Codes

ICD10CM:
F19.96 – Other psychoactive substance use, unspecified with psychoactive substance-induced persisting amnestic disorder
R41.3 – Other amnesia

SNOMEDCT:
48167000 – Amnesia

Look For

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Diagnostic Pearls

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

Best Tests

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Management Pearls

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Therapy

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Drug Reaction Data

Below is a list of drugs with literature evidence indicating an adverse association with this diagnosis. The list is continually updated through ongoing research and new medication approvals. Click on Citations to sort by number of citations or click on Medication to sort the medications alphabetically.

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References

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Last Reviewed: 08/28/2018
Last Updated: 08/28/2018
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Drug-induced amnesia
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Drug-induced amnesia : Memory loss
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