This review examines cognitive, neurological, and neuroanatomical recovery associated with abstinence from volatile substance misuse (VSM). Articles describing functional or structural brain changes longitudinally or cross-sectional reports comparing current and abstinent users were identified and reviewed. A significant lack of empirical studies investigating central nervous system recovery following VSM was noted. The few case reports and group studies identified indicated that cognitive and neurological impairments appear to follow a progression of decline and progression of recovery model, with the severity of impairment related to the duration and severity of misuse, blood lead levels among leaded petrol misusers, and the duration of abstinence for recovery. By contrast, severe neurological impairment known as lead encephalopathy from sniffing leaded petrol occurred as more catastrophic or abrupt damage to cerebellar processes that may never fully recover. Neuroanatomical damage may not recover even with prolonged abstinence.
Dingwall, K., & Cairney, S. (2011). Recovery from central nervous system changes following volatile substance misuse. Substance Use and Misuse, 46(SUPPL. 1), 73-83. https://doi.org/10.3109/10826084.2011.580221