Effects of Psychoactive Drugs Psychoactive drugs are presented in both licit and illicit forms. In most cases, psychoactive drugs are prescribed to act on the central nervous system and alter mood, thoughts, and overall consciousness. The effect on the nervous system would depend on the type of substance one takes. There are 4 types of psychoactive drugs; stimulants, depressants, narcotics, and hallucinogens. These substances can prescribed in order to help with various mental disorders and are even present in everyday objects. Psychoactive drugs affect the central nervous system by influencing the neurotransmitters and how they function. Some psychoactive drugs mimic the functions of a neurotransmitter while others prevent the function from happening. Both illicit and licit drugs have the potential of these characteristics. Stimulants are one of the groups of psychoactive drugs. The effects of stimulants include increased alertness, increased attention, increased arousal, increased focus, improved productivity. They also elevate blood pressure as well heightening energy. These types of drugs are used to treat a variety of disorders. A couple of example of these disorders are attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder which, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, is a behavior disorder, usually first diagnosed in childhood, that is characterized by inattention, impulsivity, and, in some cases, hyperactivity. These symptoms usually occur together; however, one may occur without the other, and narcolepsy, which according to Johns Hopkins medicine, is a chronic neurological disorder caused by the brain’s inability to regulate sleep-wake cycles normally. One example of a stimulant is caffeine. Caffeine is the most used psychoactive drug in the world as it is unregulated and legal. Caffeine is available to all ages and most often found in various drinks such as coffee and soft drinks. It can be used to treat drowsiness, headaches, and migraines. Caffeine can also be found in a much more concentrated form to produce a stronger effect. It can also be incorporated into other medicines to assist with the symptoms mentioned above. Caffeine may also cause irritation, nervousness, and even insomnia. Another example of a stimulant is cocaine. Cocaine is created from the coca plant, and is illegal as it is highly addictive. Cocaine causes an intense, short-lived high followed by intense depression. This makes the drug more desirable to users after just using it once. Not only is cocaine a stimulant, but it is also a topical anesthetic which numbs the location it is applied on, as well as a vasoconstrictor. Cocaine is most commonly snorted, but it can also be smoked and injected. The next group of psychoactive drugs are depressants. Depressants get their name from the effect they have on the central nervous system. They slow down the normal activity happening in the brain and the central nervous system. Some common symptoms produced by depressants are a calming effect, drowsiness, pain relief, and decreased heart rate. Some examples of depressants are barbiturates, benzodiazepines, tranquilizers, and alcohol. The most commonly consumed of all depressants is alcohol. Alcohol can be found in various drinks and used to sterilize equipment. While it has plenty of practical uses, most people just drink it to feel its effects. According to the Nation Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works. These disruptions can change mood and behavior, and make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination. Alcohol may also cause tremors along with grand mal seizure . The other examples of depressants produce around the same effects. Barbiturates are prescribed to treat insomnia, anxiety, and seizures. Benzodiazepines are also used to treat anxiety, and may also be used as a muscle relaxant, prevent seizures, and help with panic disorders. Tranquilizers, just like the previous two examples, treat anxiety and problems with sleep. The following group of psychoactive drugs are narcotics. Also known as opioids and opiates, narcotics are pain relievers. How they relieve pain is through receptors in the brain blocking most signals sent to the brain from the nerves in the body. These types of psychoactive drugs are usually prescribed by healthcare professionals and used by those who need it, but can be abused by the patient they are prescribed to. As a person becomes addicted to the pain relievers and begins to grow an immunity to the drugs, it will take more and more to get the same effect causing the patient to overdose. There are an immense amount of effects narcotics can have on the human body. Apart from relieving pain, narcotics can cause drowsiness, itchiness, delayed reaction time, seizures, dehydration, euphoria, calming, and reduce anxiety. Some examples of narcotics that can cause these symptoms are morphine and heroin. Morphine is an opioid pain medication prescribed by healthcare professional, prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. Morphine can be given in different forms such as oral morphine solutions, tablets/capsules, and injections which is the more common method of administering morphine. Heroin is an addictive, illicit drug that has no acceptable medical use in the United States. Although it is commonly found here in the United States, it can be found being sold as a white to brown powder. Heroin is most often injected, but it can also be smoked, snorted, and orally ingested. A commonly abused narcotic from the past is opium. Opium is extracted from poppy seeds and produce the same, but weaker effects compared to heroin. According to Opium.org, the effects of opium include, but are not limited to; relaxation, reduced pain, euphoria, and sleepiness. Prolonged use may lead to coma and even death. The presence of opium is so prominent in the poppy seed, so much so that if one consumes any food with enough poppy seeds they may test positive for opium use if they take a drug test afterwards. Other common examples of narcotics are those prescribed for smaller cases of pain.Some common names are Oxycontin, Fentanyl, Vicodin, Percocet, and Acetaminophen with codeine. All of these have varying strengths, but they generally all help with pain along side treating other symptoms. Hallucinogens are drugs that causes hallucinations, distortions in a person’s perceptions of reality. Under the influence of hallucinogens, people see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but do not exist. They may produce distortions in space and time. Some hallucinogens also produce rapid, intense emotional swings. A couple of these examples are Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, Psilocybin, Mescaline, and Phencyclidine. Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, also most commonly known as LSD or Acid, is one of the most powerful hallucinogens on the list. LSD is mostly taken recreationally, but it is also taken spiritually by some people. The high produced by LSD can last up to 8 hours. The effects produced are visual and auditory hallucinations, distortion of perception, can distortion of one’s identity. Psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms and shrooms, is a naturally occurring psychedelic prodrug (compound or medication that is metabolized in the body to produce a drug). Effects that Psilocybin can cause are: audio and visual hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, drowsiness, sweating numbness and weakness. The time to feel the effects range from 20 minutes to 2 hours but the effects may last 3 to 6 hours to wear off. In most cases, most of these psychoactive drugs can be prescribed to help with an illness or disorder, but can also be illegally abused. If used as prescribed, these drugs can have incredible results to those who are ill. But just as help as psychoactive drugs are, they are also incredibly destructive. When abused they can cause long term damages and have the possibility of causing death. To ensure the safety of one’s self, they must become aware of the effects of these drugs.