Psychoactive drugs, psychotropic drugs and hallucinogens. You may be familiar with one or all of these terms. The use of these drugs has increased in recent years in the United States, as well as all over the world. The term psychoactive drugs refers to substances in four main categories. Therefore, these substances encompass most types of drugs that people are most familiar with.
Psychoactive drugs are dangerous. If you are currently using them, there is so much that you need to know about them. Also, if you have questions about them, it’s important to get the answers you need.
The Psychoactive Drugs Definition
The term psychoactive drugs is often used to describe drugs that alter an individual’s brain function. The results are changes in behavior, perception and mood. At times, they also can affect consciousness levels.
Psychoactive drugs are used for a number of different purposes. Most of the time, they’re associated with recreational use. People have been known to use them for spiritual or ritualistic purposes as well.
There are some types of psychoactive drugs that do have therapeutic value. For example, some are used to treat depression, seizures and convulsions, pain or Parkinson’s Disease.
When psychoactive drugs are abused, they can easily lead to addiction. This is the case for all types of psychoactive drugs, therapeutic or recreational. This might mean having an emotional dependence or a physical dependence on these drugs.
Psychoactive Drug Examples
The list of psychoactive drugs is a long one. This is because there are so many different drugs that alter perception.
Some psychoactive drug examples include:
- Ecstasy (MDMA)
- Opioid drugs
Of course, there are many, many more. These and other psychoactive drugs are dangerous. You may have many questions about psychoactive drugs and how they can affect you. Let’s go over ten of the more commonly asked questions people ask about these harmful substances.
1. What are the Four Categories of Psychoactive Drugs?
Psychoactive drugs can be categorized into four different groups. These are all based on how they affect the brain.
The four different groups are:
You’ll find that some of these drugs are more socially acceptable in our culture than others. Many of the substances within these categories are legal, while there are others that are not.
2. Why are Hallucinogens Considered to be Psychoactive Drugs?
The different types of hallucinogens are psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants. Hallucinogens are, by definition, psychoactive substances. They cause hallucinations, which is where the name comes from. They also alter consciousness and change thoughts and emotions.
LSD, PCP and DMT are all considered to be hallucinogens. These and other, similar drugs alter your perception of reality. They work by disrupting the interaction between nerve cells and serotonin in the brain. Also, learning and memory can also be affected.
3. Are Psychoactive Drugs and Psychotropic Drugs the Same?
The terms psychoactive drugs and psychotropic drugs are frequently used to mean the same thing. Some may consider psychotropic drugs to be prescription medications, rather than illegal or illicit drugs.
For example, psychotropic drugs are frequently prescribed to treat certain mental health conditions. Depression, anxiety and other disorders are some reasons why people take these medications.
Some examples of psychotropic drugs include:
4. What Makes Alcohol a Psychoactive Drug?
Alcohol is a psychoactive drug that falls into the depressant category. This is because it slows down brain activity in many areas. Drinking alcohol in excess can have a profound effect on judgment and inhibition.
Alcohol is known to be the second most widely used psychoactive drug in the United States. It is highly addictive, and easily abused. One of the dangers associated with alcohol use is that its addictive properties aren’t always well known.
Two out of three Americans drink alcohol on occasion, whereas one out of ten consumes alcohol excessively. It is possible to be an alcoholic without realizing it. Sadly, this occurs more often in the United States than most people realize.
5. What Makes Caffeine Psychoactive?
Caffeine is, by far, the world’s most popular psychoactive drug. Most people consume caffeine on a daily basis. Whether it is in a cup of coffee, or a soda with lunch, caffeine use is widespread in our country. Statistics indicate that 90% of Americans consume caffeine every day.
Most experts say that caffeine is perfectly acceptable in moderation. However, there are some sources that indicate that it might not be good for overall health. It is a stimulant drug that serves as a way to improve attention and wakefulness. Of course, it’s legal, and so the perception of safety is high.
Caffeine can be consumed in dangerous amounts. Energy drinks containing caffeine may have high amounts of the drug in them. They are also known for having other, unhealthy chemicals added. College students are often known for taking caffeine pills to help them stay awake and study.
6. In What Ways Might Psychoactive Drugs be Beneficial?
Any psychoactive or psychotropic drug that is consumed in excess can be harmful. However, there are some types of these drugs that actually do have some benefits.
People who frequently use psychoactive drugs say that they use them because they:
- Allow them to be more sociable
- Give them enjoyment or pleasure
- Improve their state of mind
- Relieve their pain
- Relieve their depression or anxiety
- Help them feel more relaxed
- Relieve their stress
- Help them lose weight
- Provide more energy
- Improve sleep
- Improve memory, attention and concentration
Even so, it must be stated that any time a psychoactive drug is misused, there are consequences. The abuse of psychotropic drugs can provide all of these and other benefits. However, those benefits are quite likely to be short-lived.
With ongoing abuse, the negative effects of these drugs are likely to become much more pronounced. This is true whether a drug is considered to be socially acceptable, or whether it is prescribed or illegal.
7. Why do Psychoactive Drugs Lead to Addiction?
If you have been using psychoactive or psychotropic drugs, you may be wondering if you have an addiction. The question is, why do these drugs lead to addiction?
In some cases, the use of psychotropic drugs doesn’t always lead to addiction. Prescribed drugs like Ativan, Celexa and Lexapro can be taken according to the prescription safely. If these and other psychotropic drugs are taken for short periods of time, addiction is unlikely as well.
However, psychoactive drugs are often taken for too long, or they are abused in some way. Drug abuse will eventually lead to addiction if the drug is not stopped.
Addiction occurs because the body and brain grow accustomed to having the drugs. The chemicals dopamine and serotonin, which are naturally produced by the brain, cease their production. This is because the drugs start taking over that job. Physical and psychological addiction is the result of this.
8. Are Hallucinogens Truly Addictive?
Sometimes people will take hallucinogens thinking that they can do so safely. They assume that these types of drugs are not addictive. Therefore, they have nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, this is not at all accurate.
There are hallucinogens that result in an addiction. There are also those drugs that experts believe don’t result in addiction. For example, LSD is a drug that is not thought to be physically addictive. Even so, taking LSD for a longer period of time will result in increased levels of tolerance. This in itself is an indicator of addiction.
Even if hallucinogens are not believed to be physically addictive, they are psychologically addictive. When you become psychologically addicted to a drug, you believe you need it. Psychological addiction can produce physical addiction symptoms for all types of psychoactive drugs, including hallucinogens.
Please don’t think that you’re safe if you take hallucinogens. These drugs are dangerous, and they do lead to addiction, in one form or another.
9. How do Prescription Psychotropic Drugs Cause Addiction?
People often believe that if they take prescription drugs, they are safe from addiction. Many addictive prescription psychotropic drugs have labels on them warning of the risk of addiction. However, not all of them do. The ones that are considered controlled substances are labeled.
An addiction to prescription psychotropic drugs can be formed for a number of reasons. Most often, it is because:
- The individual is taking the drug without a prescription
- The person is taking too much of the drug at one time
- The person has been using the drug for too long
- The individual is taking doses that are too close together
- The drug is being crushed and snorted, or mixed with liquid and injected
Any of these methods of taking prescription psychotropic drugs will eventually lead to addiction. These drugs are not at all safe; and even more so when they are being misused.
Prescription psychotropic drugs can lead to addiction the same way that other psychoactive drugs do. The body grows dependent upon the drugs as time goes on. Eventually, the person begins to feel as though they can’t live without them.
10. Can You Overdose on Psychoactive Drugs, Psychotropic Drugs and Hallucinogens?
You absolutely can overdose on psychoactive drugs. This includes psychotropic drugs by prescription, and hallucinogens. Unfortunately, it happens all too often.
An overdose on these drugs is likely to occur if someone mixes them with each other. It can also take place if the individual takes too much of the drug at one time. However, one of the more common reasons why an overdose occurs is because of a relapse.
A drug relapse is when someone has been taking psychoactive drugs for quite some time, and then stops. Eventually that individual starts using again. Relapses are very dangerous because they are quite likely to lead to a drug overdose.
When you stop using psychoactive drugs of any type, your tolerance levels begin to go down. This process actually begins to occur the moment the drugs are stopped. Drug cravings and other drug withdrawal symptoms are often bad enough to drive people back to using. When they do, they typically take the amount of the drug they’re used to taking. This is what leads to a drug overdose.
An overdose on a psychoactive drug is very dangerous. For many drugs, overdoses can be fatal unless medical help is obtained right away. For other drugs, such as cannabis, an overdose might not be fatal, but it can result in sickness.
Stopping the use of psychoactive drugs on your own is never a good idea. It’s much safer to stop using in a controlled medical environment. This reduces your chance of an overdose substantially.
Do You Have Other Questions About Psychoactive Drugs?
It’s possible that you have additional questions about psychoactive drugs. We have done our best to answer many of the most common ones hear. However, if you need additional information, we want to be able to help you.
Research has uncovered so much information on psychotropic drugs, hallucinogens and other psychoactive drugs. We know more now than we have ever known before. However, the learning process is always ongoing. Every year, more and more is known about some of the world’s most popular drugs and substances.
If you have additional questions you’d like to have answered, please leave us a comment below. We’d love to talk with you and answer your questions.
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