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Psychoactive drugs are chemical substances that affect the central nervous system such as the brain and spinal cord.

These drugs work in altering one’s perception, mood, consciousness and behavior. They are classified into categories based on their chemical structure, common affects, addiction liability, or DEA schedules. Psychoactive drugs classified by chemical structure and according to physical and psychological effects can be separated into four different categories such as, depressants, stimulants, opioids, and hallucinogens. Depressants are typically used to induce sleep or relaxation by depressing the central nervous systems regular activity. The drugs include barbiturates, benzodiazepines, alcohol, gamma hydroxybutyrate, and more. Physiological responses that can occur after consuming a depressant include, reduced tension, anxiety relief, slurred speech, staggered gait, and relaxed muscles. Excessive use may lead to slowed, shallow breathing; clammy skin; weak, rapid pulse; coma and death.

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Some psychological effects that can occur include dizziness, confusion, loss of coordination, and disorientation. Long term use of these drugs can lead to depression, fatigue, sexual issues and sleep disorders. The next category is stimulants.

They act in the opposite of depressants in that they produce effects that allow the user to feel alertness, enhanced perception of energy, and improved sense of well-being. They can also make you feel, edgy, paranoid, or angry. Its physiological responses include an increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased breathing frequency, flushed skin, and perspiration. Excessive stimulant use can lead dizziness, irritability, mood swings, headache, heart palpitations, chest pain, hallucinations, and death.

Opioids are drugs that act through the opioid receptors, they are one of the most commonly prescribed medicines worldwide and are used to treat pain. Opioid pain relievers are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but because they produce euphoria in addition to pain relief, they can be misused or taken without a doctor’s prescription. Opiates can be injected, snorted, or smoked. The short-term effect of opiate abuse consists of a surge of euphoria coupled with a warm flushing of the skin, dry mouth, and heavy extremities. Opioid drugs include heroin, codeine, morphine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, buprenorphine, and methadone.Hallucinogens are known for altering perception, mood and behavior.

Some hallucinogens interfere with the action of the brain’s chemical serotonin. Hallucinogenic  drugs include, peyote/mescaline,  psilocybin/psilocin,  LSD,  ketamine,  ecstasy,  PCP,  foxy methoxy,  AMT,  marijuana. Physiological changes include elevations in heart rate and blood pressure, erratic behavior and pupil dilation. The psychological changes induced by these drugs are what hallucinogens are most known for, and include euphoria, paranoia, impaired social functioning, and a disassociation of time, space and reality. The hallucinogenic experience, “trip,” can be pleasing or it can be extremely frightening. The final result is unpredictable.

Excessive hallucinogen use can lead to memory loss, difficulties with speech and thinking, weight loss and depression.Many of these substances, especially the stimulants and depressants, can be habit-forming, causing chemical dependency and can lead to substance abuse.  Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive, uncontrollable, drug seeking and use. It starts when an individual voluntarily takes a drug and experiences the psychoactive effect and it activates parts of the brain that cause a higher risk of use again. However, the “rewarding” effects of drugs alone cannot account for why some psychoactive drugs can lead to all behaviours associated with addiction. You can be physically or psychologically addicted to drugs.

Psychological dependence is form of craving for a drug. A person with psychological dependence has an excessive, irresistible, uncontrollable desire to use the drug. It may not cause physical symptoms, but can lead to drug-seeking behavior. There are many controversies over whether drug addiction is an actual disease. By definition a chronic disease is a condition that can’t be cured but can be controlled and is long lasting. Most medical associations, including the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine classify addiction as a chronic disease. An individual who suffers from addiction and goes untreated can lead to severe physical and mental health disorders.  Although it was an individual’s choice to begin using drugs they are not a fault for suffering this disease.

There are many factors that can increase the risk of drug addiction, which include family history of addiction, mental health disorder, peer pressure, lack of family involvement, early use, and taking highly addictive drugs. Symptoms of drug use can vary according to the drug being used however there are common behaviors that correlate to drug users. Behaviors such as missing school/work, lack of energy and motivation, changes in weight, lack of interest in appearance, changes in behavior toward family and friends, and sudden eagerness for money. People who suffer from drug addiction find it hard to seek treatment for numerous reasons.

It is a long lasting process that involves regular monitoring. The type of treatment or combination of treatments typically depends on the individual’s needs and, on the types of drugs they use. A person’s first step into treatment the acknowledgment and acceptance of their addiction. The next step is finding a program that will best help their health, happiness and well-being. Becoming clean from a drug is extremely hard for many and withdrawal can become painful, it can cause symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, headaches, nausea and vomiting, irritability, muscle aches, dizziness, shakiness, mood swings, elevated heart rate, tremors, depression and more. There are many different treatment plans, people with a more severe case of addiction likely start with a detox program. Most people begin in rehab facilities and attend support groups during and after treatment.

However treatment isn’t just facilities, it takes strong self-discipline for the remainder of their life in order to insure sobriety. According to and scientific research studied since the mid 1970s these are basic principles in any effective treatment plan for people with drug addiction.

Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior.No single treatment is right for everyone.People need to have quick access to treatment.Effective treatment addresses all of the patient’s needs, not just his or her drug use.Staying in treatment long enough is critical.Counseling and other behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of treatment.Medications are often an important part of treatment, especially when combined with behavioral therapies.Treatment plans must be reviewed often and modified to fit the patient’s changing needs.Treatment should address other possible mental disorders.Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of treatment.Treatment doesn’t need to be voluntary to be effective.Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously.Treatment programs should test patients for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases as well as teach them about steps they can take to reduce their risk of these illnesses 


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