Psychoactive drugs is any substance (or mixture), natural or artificial, that affects the functioning of the central nervous system, leading to some changes in mental state. These changes can be both positive and negative.
Psychoactive drugs affecting higher mental functions, often used in medicine to treat mental illnesses, are referred to as psychotropic.
Neurotropic substances are an extensive group of drugs that affect the central and peripheral nervous systems. They can oppress or facilitate the transfer of nerve excitation in the different sections of the central nervous system, reduce or increase the sensitivity of the peripheral nerves terminals, affect different types of receptors in synapses.
On the origin of psychoactive drugs are divided into vegetable, semi-synthetic (synthesized based on raw vegetable materials) and synthetic; they are classified according to their effect on the body.
Psychoactive drugs may also be divided according to their chemical structure and the effects that they have on human behavior. There are also combined classification.
Psychoactive drugs have a variety of effects on the central nervous system at any level of its functioning: molecular, cellular, system, synaptic. In general, any such effect is accompanied by a change in metabolism at the level at which these effects occur.
The psychoactive substances can enter the body in many different ways, the most common ways are:
- administered orally, through the digestive system,
- parenteral, intramuscularly or intravenously,
- through the mucous membranes, including route (via the nasopharynx via the inhalation of grinded materials,
- through the lungs by smoking or inhaling the vapors.
Psychoactive drugs undergo complex reaction in the body, depending on the method of intake and can be processed by the body in derivatives, and, passing through the blood-brain barrier, affect the transfer of nerve impulses, through the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, thus changing the nervous system.
The lower dose of drug must be taken to have the full effect, the more the drug is psychoactive. For example, the active LSD dose is 100 micrograms, while for ethanol the active dose is measured in tens of grams. Thus, the psychoactive effect of LSD is ten thousands times higher than that of ethanol. Depending on the metabolism of the individual the drug can have almost no effect (tolerance) or the effect can be much stronger (hypersensitivity). It is also common to measure the dose of a drug in grams per kilogram of body weight.
The division based on addictive effect is ambiguous. The leaders on this indicator among psychoactive drugs are considered to be heroin, cocaine, nicotine, and alcohol. Opiates and stimulants stand out among classes of psychoactive substances as being addictive; barbiturates also can cause a strong addiction, although the reactions on various drugs can be very individual.
Coffee and tea that contain purines have a light stimulating effect. Other “light drugs” typically involve marijuana and sometimes some psychedelics.
The higher the tolerance to the substance, the higher dose is necessary to produce the desired effect. Usually tolerance is developed during using the drug and weakens after the drug cancelation. Quick tolerance is formed to caffeine and opiates.
The higher the dose and the more often these substances are used, the stronger the tolerance to them.
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