Psychoactive Drugs

Topics: Psychoactive drug, Morphine, Cocaine Pages: 5 (1908 words) Published: November 28, 2010
Psychoactive Drugs are chemical substances that alter behavior, mood, perception, or mental functioning. Through the consumption of substances many cultures have found ways to alter consciousness. Psychoactive substances apply their effects by transforming biochemical or physiological processes in the brain. The message system of nerve cells, or neurons, relies on both electrical and chemical transmission. Neurons rarely touch each other; there is a microscopic gap between one neuron and the next, called the synapse. When a neuron fires, it releases chemicals called neurotransmitters into the synapse. Psychoactive drugs act by altering neurotransmitter function, they bind to the site of the firing neuron and inhibit this process so the neurotransmitters remain in the synapse, where they extend and increase the normal effect. The drugs can be separated into six key pharmacological classes based on their desired behavioral or psychological effect: alcohol, sedative-hypnotics, hallucinogens, narcotic analgesics, stimulant-euphoriants, and psychotropic drugs. The most used psychoactive substance is alcohol, which is also the only psychoactive drug legally available without a prescription in most countries. Enjoyable relaxation is often the ideal effect from alcohol consumption, but intoxication weakens judgment and motor performance, as well as brings on a feeling of exhilaration, and exaltation followed by sleep. Alcohol is a stimulant at first but after more is consumed it becomes a depressant. Alcohol is addictive. Continual use of alcohol can lead to disease known as alcoholism. Alcoholism can be classified as a chronic illness, psycho, somatic, or psychosomatic. It manifests itself as disorder of behavior. When consumed continually, alcohol consumption can be extremely harmful to the liver and brain cells, as well as physiologically addicting, generating hazardous withdrawal symptoms. It is possible to overdose from alcohol. Alcohol increases danger when taken with other types of drugs. Sedative-hypnotics, such as diazepam, amytat or barbiturates, more commonly known as the brand ‘Valium’, are all types of brain depressants. To assist people in sleeping, doctors often prescribe sedative-hypnotics. They can also be prescribed to calm people without causing sleep, because some may contain anti-anxiety agents. Sedative-Hypnotics are also used illegally to create relaxation, tranquility and euphoria. Overdoses of such drugs can prove to be fatal; they may also be physiologically addicting and may produce life threatening withdrawal symptoms. Barbiturates are extremely dangerous if injected and highly addictive. If they are taken to help a person sleep for a few nights in a row then after the person stops taking them it will have become impossible to sleep without them. Barbiturates create tolerance. The withdraw symptoms can be very painful to the user. A person who is withdrawn from barbiturates craves for them, they feel discomfort, and cannot sleep. In some situations withdrawal can cause major epileptic seizures, which makes it possible to die from barbiturate withdrawal. Barbiturates should only be used under doctor supervision. They aren’t pleasant or enjoyable since they lack euphoric content and the social lubrication that is produced by alcohol consumption. They create a dark, blank oblivion, because of this they are usually taken by people who hate him or herself or life. Hallucinogens or psychedelic drugs as they are sometimes referred to, or more commonly known as marijuana (which is a very weak hallucinogen), LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide), mescaline, or PCP’s (Phencyclidine), have little medical use. These drugs are taken illegally to alter perception and thinking patterns. Hallucinogens all have the same risks that a person faces when choosing to take a form of hallucinogen. Those risks are increased heart rate and blood pressure, sleeplessness and tremors, lack of muscular coordination, sparse, mangled and...
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