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Substance abuse 101
(Types of psychoactive drugs and their actions)
The three types of psychoactive drugs are,
Depressants such as alcohol, Sedatives/hypnotics and volatile solvents, that diminish the activity of the central nervous system have the capability of slowing down reactions and reducing the strength of responses. It can also cause drowsiness; sleep and possibly death if taken in large enough quantities. Depressant drugs are drugs like barbiturates, narcotics, minor tranquilizers and alcohol.
Stimulants on the other hand stimulate the central nervous system and have the capability to improve performance on many tasks as well as keeps someone awake for a period of time. Continued use will create cycles of arousal. Then it will be followed by periods of Depression. Stimulants are drugs like caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines, and cocaine. These drugs cause a feeling of light headedness, alertness and euphoria. They can also speed up one’s reaction time.
Hallucinogens are drugs that have the capability of producing perpetual and temporal distortions. The tropical morning glory plant, psilocybin mushrooms and cannabis hemp contain these hallucinogens and others are made synthetically. These drugs affect the perceptions by producing distortions. These distortions may be pleasurable or they may produce anxiety and be upsetting and even down right fear and terror.
There are many ways in which psychoactive drugs alter brain chemistry and I am sure we will learn more over time, but we do know that communication between brain cells (neurons) with one another are affected through a series of biological processes called neuro-
Transmission. Some of these drugs affect the way these neurotransmitters function by blocking, storing, releasing or removing these transmitters.
Despite their differences, psychoactive drugs do share similarities in the way they affect regions of the brain involved in motivation, which is relevant to the development of drug dependence.