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This is a€?Altering Consciousness With Psychoactive Drugsa€?, section 5.2 from the book Beginning Psychology (v. This content was accessible as of December 29, 2012, and it was downloaded then by Andy Schmitz in an effort to preserve the availability of this book.
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A psychoactive drugA chemical that changes our states of consciousness, and particularly our perceptions and moods. Psychoactive drugs affect consciousness by influencing how neurotransmitters operate at the synapses of the central nervous system (CNS).
Stimulants block the reuptake of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the synapses of the CNS.
Depressants change consciousness by increasing the production of the neurotransmitter GABA and decreasing the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, usually at the level of the thalamus and the reticular formation. The chemical compositions of the hallucinogens are similar to the neurotransmitters serotonin and epinephrine, and they act primarily by mimicking them. In some cases the effects of psychoactive drugs mimic other naturally occurring states of consciousness.
The use of psychoactive drugs, and especially those that are used illegally, has the potential to create very negative side effects (Table 5.1 "Psychoactive Drugs by Class"). Users may wish to stop using the drug, but when they reduce their dosage they experience withdrawalNegative experiences that accompany reducing or stopping drug use, including physical pain and other symptoms.a€”negative experiences that accompany reducing or stopping drug use, including physical pain and other symptoms. It is a common belief that addiction is an overwhelming, irresistibly powerful force, and that withdrawal from drugs is always an unbearably painful experience.
Another problem is the unintended consequences of combining drugs, which can produce serious side effects. A stimulantA class of psychoactive drugs that operate by blocking the reuptake of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the synapses of the central nervous system.
Used in moderation, some stimulants may increase alertness, but used in an irresponsible fashion they can quickly create dependency. AmphetamineA stimulant that produces increased wakefulness and focus, along with decreased fatigue and appetite.
Amphetamines may produce a very high level of tolerance, leading users to increase their intake, often in a€?joltsa€? taken every half hour or so.
In contrast to stimulants, which work to increase neural activity, a depressant acts to slow down consciousness. The most commonly used of the depressants is alcoholA colorless liquid, produced by the fermentation of sugar or starch, that is the intoxicating agent in fermented drinks., a colorless liquid, produced by the fermentation of sugar or starch, that is the intoxicating agent in fermented drinks. Alcohol use is highly costly to societies because so many people abuse alcohol and because judgment after drinking can be substantially impaired. BarbituratesA family of depressants that are commonly prescribed as sleeping pills and painkillers. Related to barbiturates, benzodiazepinesA family of depressants used to treat anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and muscle spasms. OpioidsA family of chemicals that increase activity in opioid receptor neurons in the brain and in the digestive system, producing euphoria, analgesia, slower breathing, and constipation. The opioids activate the sympathetic division of the ANS, causing blood pressure and heart rate to increase, often to dangerous levels that can lead to heart attack or stroke.
The drugs that produce the most extreme alteration of consciousness are the hallucinogensA family of psychoactive drugs that alter sensation and perception., psychoactive drugs that alter sensation and perception and that may create hallucinations. Although the hallucinogens are powerful drugs that produce striking a€?mind-alteringa€? effects, they do not produce physiological or psychological tolerance or dependence. Because drug and alcohol abuse is a behavior that has such important negative consequences for so many people, researchers have tried to understand what leads people to use drugs. Participants in the research were 125 5th- through 12th-graders attending after-school programs throughout inner-city neighborhoods in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. Because the participants do not have precise information about the probability of each balloon exploding, and because each balloon is programmed to explode after a different number of pumps, the participants have to determine how much to pump up the balloon. Despite the fact that young people have experimented with cigarettes, alcohol, and other dangerous drugs for many generations, it would be better if they did not. Using psychoactive drugs may create tolerance and, when they are no longer used, withdrawal.
Stimulants, including caffeine, nicotine, and amphetamine, increase neural activity by blocking the reuptake of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the CNS. Depressants, including, alcohol, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines, decrease consciousness by increasing the production of the neurotransmitter GABA and decreasing the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
Opioids, including codeine, opium, morphine and heroin, produce euphoria and analgesia by increasing activity in opioid receptor neurons. Hallucinogens, including cannabis, mescaline, and LSD, create an extreme alteration of consciousness as well as the possibility of hallucinations. Additional features include 3-D animations that show multiple views, interactive practice quizzes, and Spanish subtitles.
Other bonus sections include a section on car maintenance as well as drug and alcohol awareness. 3-D animations give a bird’s eye view of maneuvers such as parallel parking and intersections. Townsend spent two years producing records because he felt he couldn't write without drugs in his system. What popped up was not another version of Strapping Young Lad, but the Devin Townsend Project. The first album Ki was an easy listening feel good album that I personally despised and never really understood, now the second album "Addicted" is came out on Nov 17 and the first track you will find off to the side or in the video section is amazing. The reason for the title is people are accusing Devin of selling out and making a pop album ala Chris Cornell. The next album after addicted will be a more Black Metal type sound with the forth being a new wave modern sounding album. See the license for more details, but that basically means you can share this book as long as you credit the author (but see below), don't make money from it, and do make it available to everyone else under the same terms.
However, the publisher has asked for the customary Creative Commons attribution to the original publisher, authors, title, and book URI to be removed. For instance, sleeping pills are prescribed to create drowsiness, and benzodiazepines are prescribed to create a state of relaxation.
This does not mean that all drugs are dangerous, but rather that all drugs can be dangerous, particularly if they are used regularly over long periods of time. As the use of the drug increases, the user may develop a dependenceThe need to use a drug or other substance regularly., defined as a need to use a drug or other substance regularly. When the user powerfully craves the drug and is driven to seek it out, over and over again, no matter what the physical, social, financial, and legal cost, we say that he or she has developed an addictionWhen the user powerfully craves the drug and is driven to seek it out, over and over again, no matter what the physical, social, financial, and legal cost. Combining drugs is dangerous because their combined effects on the CNS can increase dramatically and can lead to accidental or even deliberate overdoses. One way to determine how dangerous recreational drugs are is to calculate a safety ratio, based on the dose that is likely to be fatal divided by the normal dose needed to feel the effects of the drug. A major problem is the a€?crasha€? that results when the drug loses its effectiveness and the activity of the neurotransmitters returns to normal.
For instance, the prescription drug Chantix acts as an antagonist, binding to nicotine receptors in the synapse, which prevents users from receiving the normal stimulant effect when they smoke. It constricts blood vessels, dilates pupils, and increases body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.


Although the level of physical dependency is small, amphetamines may produce very strong psychological dependence, effectively amounting to addiction. Alcohol acts as a general depressant in the central nervous system, where its actions are similar to those of general anesthetics.
These drugs are easily accessible as the vapors of glue, gasoline, propane, hair spray, and spray paint, and are inhaled to create a change in consciousness.
At the same time the drugs also influence the parasympathetic division, leading to constipation and other negative side effects. This method of drug use provides the highest intensity and quickest onset of the initial rush but is also the most dangerous.
The hallucinogens are frequently known as a€?psychedelics.a€? Drugs in this class include lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD, or a€?Acida€?), mescaline, and phencyclidine (PCP), as well as a number of natural plants including cannabis (marijuana), peyote, and psilocybin. Until it was banned in the United States under the Marijuana Tax Act of 1938, it was widely used for medical purposes.
While they are not addictive and pose little physical threat to the body, their use is not advisable in any situation in which the user needs to be alert and attentive, exercise focused awareness or good judgment, or demonstrate normal mental functioning, such as driving a car, studying, or operating machinery. Perhaps this should not be suprising, because many people find using drugs to be fun and enjoyable. Carl Lejuez and his colleagues (Lejuez, Aklin, Bornovalova, & Moolchan, 2005)Lejuez, C. Eighty percent of the adolescents indicated that they had never tried even a puff of a cigarette, and 20% indicated that they had had at least one puff of a cigarette. The number of pumps that participants take is used as a measure of their tolerance for risk.
Children try drugs when their friends convince them to do it, and these decisions are based on social norms about the risks and benefits of various drugs. You’ll learn how to go from practicing in a parking lot all the way to driving on the highway. The practice multiple choice and road sign identification quizzes will help you pass the written part of the driving exam.
Nothing contained within this website should be misconstrued as professional driving instruction. You may also download a PDF copy of this book (46 MB) or just this chapter (3 MB), suitable for printing or most e-readers, or a .zip file containing this book's HTML files (for use in a web browser offline).
These drugs are commonly found in everyday foods and beverages, including chocolate, coffee, and soft drinks, as well as in alcohol and in over-the-counter drugs, such as aspirin, Tylenol, and cold and cough medication.
In other cases psychoactive drugs are taken for recreational purposes with the goal of creating states of consciousness that are pleasurable or that help us escape our normal consciousness.
Psychoactive drugs create negative effects not so much through their initial use but through the continued use, accompanied by increasing doses, that ultimately may lead to drug abuse.
Dependence can be psychological, in which the drug is desired and has become part of the everyday life of the user, but no serious physical effects result if the drug is not obtained; or physical, in which serious physical and mental effects appear when the drug is withdrawn.
For one, even drugs that we do not generally think of as being addictive, such as caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, can be very difficult to quit using, at least for some people.
These drugs are generally illegal and carry with them potential criminal consequences if one is caught and arrested.
Drugs with lower ratios are more dangerous because the difference between the normal and the lethal dose is small. Because more of these neurotransmitters remain active in the brain, the result is an increase in the activity of the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system (ANS).
The withdrawal from stimulants can create profound depression and lead to an intense desire to repeat the high. It is found in a wide variety of products, including coffee, tea, soft drinks, candy, and desserts. Nicotine is the main cause for the dependence-forming properties of tobacco use, and tobacco use is a major health threat.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was a primary constituent in many popular tonics and elixirs and, although it was removed in 1905, was one of the original ingredients in Coca-Cola. Amphetamine is used in prescription medications to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD) and narcolepsy, and to control appetite.
In low to moderate doses, alcohol first acts to remove social inhibitions by slowing activity in the sympathetic nervous system. In low doses, they produce mild sedation and relieve anxiety; in high doses, they induce sleep.
Related drugs are the nitrites (amyl and butyl nitrite; a€?poppers,a€? a€?rush,a€? a€?locker rooma€?) and anesthetics such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and ether. Their chemical makeup is similar to the endorphins, the neurotransmitters that serve as the bodya€™s a€?natural pain reducers.a€? Natural opioids are derived from the opium poppy, which is widespread in Eurasia, but they can also be created synthetically.
Symptoms of opioid withdrawal include diarrhea, insomnia, restlessness, irritability, and vomiting, all accompanied by a strong craving for the drug.
The chemical compositions of the hallucinogens are similar to the neurotransmitters serotonin and epinephrine, and they act primarily as agonists by mimicking the action of serotonin at the synapses. In recent years, cannabis has again been frequently prescribed for the treatment of pain and nausea, particularly in cancer sufferers, as well as for a wide variety of other physical and psychological disorders (Ben Amar, 2006).Ben Amar, M. Even when we know the potential costs of using drugs, we may engage in them anyway because the pleasures of using the drugs are occurring right now, whereas the potential costs are abstract and occur in the future. Low-tolerance people tend to make a few pumps and then collect the money, whereas more risky people pump more times into each balloon. Based on what you have learned in this section, why do you think that they are used, and do you think that their side effects are harmful? Can you see any weaknesses in the study caused by the fact that the results are based on correlational analyses? There’s even a section on car maintenance, which you don’t see on many driver’s education DVDs, but is essential information for any driver to learn and know. Psychoactive drugs are also frequently prescribed as sleeping pills, tranquilizers, and antianxiety medications, and they may be taken, illegally, for recreational purposes. Cigarette smokers who try to quit, for example, experience physical withdrawal symptoms, such as becoming tired and irritable, as well as extreme psychological cravings to enjoy a cigarette in particular situations, such as after a meal or when they are with friends. On the other hand, drugs that are normally associated with addiction, including amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin, do not immediately create addiction in their users. For instance, heroin has a safety ratio of 6 because the average fatal dose is only 6 times greater than the average effective dose. Effects of stimulants include increased heart and breathing rates, pupil dilation, and increases in blood sugar accompanied by decreases in appetite. Nicotine creates both psychological and physical addiction, and it is one of the hardest addictions to break. The effects of the stimulant methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), also known as a€?Ecstasy,a€? provide a good example. Depressants are widely used as prescription medicines to relieve pain, to lower heart rate and respiration, and as anticonvulsants. In higher doses, alcohol acts on the cerebellum to interfere with coordination and balance, producing the staggering gait of drunkenness. In small to moderate doses, barbiturates produce relaxation and sleepiness, but in higher doses symptoms may include sluggishness, difficulty in thinking, slowness of speech, drowsiness, faulty judgment, and eventually coma or even death (Medline Plus, 2008).Medline Plus. In the United States, benzodiazepines are among the most widely prescribed medications that affect the CNS.
Inhalants are some of the most dangerous recreational drugs, with a safety index below 10, and their continued use may lead to permanent brain damage. The powerful psychological dependence of the opioids and the severe effects of withdrawal make it very difficult for morphine and heroin abusers to quit using.
The hallucinogens may produce striking changes in perception through one or more of the senses.


As you can see in Table 5.1 "Psychoactive Drugs by Class", the four primary classes of psychoactive drugs are stimulants, depressants, opioids, and hallucinogens. Snorting (a€?sniffinga€?) drugs can lead to a loss of the sense of smell, nosebleeds, difficulty in swallowing, hoarseness, and chronic runny nose. Concurrent use of cocaine and alcohol is more potent and potentially more toxic than use of either alonea€”A multiple-dose study 1. For these reasons, stimulants are frequently used to help people stay awake and to control weight.
Nicotine content in cigarettes has slowly increased over the years, making quitting smoking more and more difficult. In many cases people are able to get past the physical dependence, allowing them to quit smoking at least temporarily.
The intensity and duration of cocainea€™s effects, which include increased energy and reduced fatigue, depend on how the drug is taken.
MDMA is a very strong stimulant that very successfully prevents the reuptake of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. At high blood levels, further CNS depression leads to dizziness, nausea, and eventually a loss of consciousness. Brand names include Centrax, Dalmane, Doral, Halcion, Librium, ProSom, Restoril, Xanax, and Valium.
In addition, because many users take these drugs intravenously and share contaminated needles, they run a very high risk of being infected with diseases. The precise effects a user experiences are a function not only of the drug itself, but also of the usera€™s preexisting mental state and expectations of the drug experience.
Injecting drugs intravenously carries with it the risk of contracting infections such as hepatitis and HIV. This is not to say that smoking marijuana cannot be deadly, but it is much less likely to be deadly than is heroin. The faster the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to the brain, the more intense the high.
It is so effective that when used repeatedly it can seriously deplete the amount of neurotransmitters available in the brain, producing a catastrophic mental and physical a€?crasha€? resulting in serious, long-lasting depression. High enough blood levels such as those produced by a€?guzzlinga€? large amounts of hard liquor at parties can be fatal.
Opioid addicts suffer a high rate of infections such as HIV, pericarditis (an infection of the membrane around the heart), and hepatitis B, any of which can be fatal. In large part, the user tends to get out of the experience what he or she brings to it.The hallucinations that may be experienced when taking these drugs are strikingly different from everyday experience and frequently are more similar to dreams than to everyday consciousness. Furthermore, the quality and contents of illegal drugs are generally unknown, and the doses can vary substantially from purchase to purchase. The safety ratios of common recreational drugs are shown in Table 5.2 "Popular Recreational Drugs and Their Safety Ratios". MDMA also affects the temperature-regulating mechanisms of the brain, so in high doses, and especially when combined with vigorous physical activity like dancing, it can cause the body to become so drastically overheated that users can literally a€?burn upa€? and die from hyperthermia and dehydration. When people are intoxicated, they become more self-focused and less aware of the social situation. While medical marijuana is now legal in several American states, it is still banned under federal law, putting those states in conflict with the federal government.
As a result, they become less likely to notice the social constraints that normally prevent them from engaging aggressively, and are less likely to use those social constraints to guide them. When morphine was first refined from opium in the early 19th century, it was touted as a cure for opium addiction, but it didna€™t take long to discover that it was actually more addicting than raw opium.
Differences in risk-taking propensity across inner-city adolescent ever- and never-smokers.
The high from snorting cocaine may last 30 minutes, whereas the high from smoking a€?cracka€? cocaine may last only 10 minutes.
For instance, we might normally notice the presence of a police officer or other people around us, which would remind us that being aggressive is not appropriate. When heroin was produced a few decades later, it was also initially thought to be a more potent, less addictive painkiller but was soon found to be much more addictive than morphine.
It acts to enhance perception of sights, sounds, and smells, and may produce a sensation of time slowing down. Food and Drug Administration lists caffeine as a safe food substance, it has at least some characteristics of dependence. In order to sustain the high, the user must administer the drug again, which may lead to frequent use, often in higher doses, over a short period of time (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2009).National Institute on Drug Abuse. Human aggression while under the influence of alcohol and other drugs: An integrative research review. Heroin is about twice as addictive as morphine, and creates severe tolerance, moderate physical dependence, and severe psychological dependence. It is much less likely to lead to antisocial acts than that other popular intoxicant, alcohol, and it is also the one psychedelic drug whose use has not declined in recent years (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2009).National Institute on Drug Abuse. Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan (conducted for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Health). People who reduce their caffeine intake often report being irritable, restless, and drowsy, as well as experiencing strong headaches, and these withdrawal symptoms may last up to a week.
The narrowing of attention that occurs when we are intoxicated also prevents us from being cognizant of the negative outcomes of our aggression.
The danger of heroin is demonstrated in the fact that it has the lowest safety ratio (6) of all the drugs listed in Table 5.1 "Psychoactive Drugs by Class". In their research they compared risk-taking behavior in adolescents who reported having tried a cigarette at least once with those who reported that they had never tried smoking.
Most experts feel that using small amounts of caffeine during pregnancy is safe, but larger amounts of caffeine can be harmful to the fetus (U.S. The BART is a computer task in which the participant pumps up a series of simulated balloons by pressing on a computer key. With each pump the balloon appears bigger on the screen, and more money accumulates in a temporary a€?bank account.a€? However, when a balloon is pumped up too far, the computer generates a popping sound, the balloon disappears from the screen, and all the money in the temporary bank is lost. Drunk in public, drunk in private: The relationship between college students, drinking environments and alcohol consumption. From first drug use to drug dependence: Developmental periods of risk for dependence upon marijuana, cocaine, and alcohol. At any point during each balloon trial, the participant can stop pumping up the balloon, click on a button, transfer all money from the temporary bank to the permanent bank, and begin with a new balloon. Furthermore, as we will see in the next section, there are many other enjoyable ways to alter consciousness that are safer. Furthermore, the rate of addiction is lower for those who are taking drugs for medical reasons than for those who are using drugs recreationally. Patients who have become physically dependent on morphine administered during the course of medical treatment for a painful injury or disease are able to be rapidly weaned off the drug afterward, without becoming addicts.
If we expect that alcohol will make us more aggressive, then we tend to become more aggressive when we drink.
Even people who are not normally aggressive may react with aggression when they are intoxicated.



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