Psychoactive drugs are known to have a historical background. These drugs alter the mood, perception, consciousness, and behavior. These drugs serve various purposes such as medically, recreationally, for rituals and spiritual purposes, or research. Certain psychoactive drugs have the potential to heal from diseases. These drugs are prescribed by physicians and include anesthetics, analgesics, anti-depressants, antiparkinsonian, and drugs used to treat other neuropsychiatric conditions. They are also used to remove toxic substances from the body (detoxification). Psychoactive substances generally bring a pleasant, rewarding change in the mood. The person experiences a sense of relaxation.The withdrawal of the drug causes the mood to worsen. Sustained use of these drugs may result in both physical and psychological dependence. In such cases, drug rehabilitation aims to improve the condition. Some psychoactive substances are also a part of the rehabilitation program along with psychoactive substances and support groups. Examples of psychoactive drugs include- cocaine, cannabis, hashish, ephedrine, codeine, etc.Long-term use of drugs can result in certain drug-related disorders such as as, altered sleep patterns, increased stress, neurohormonal changes, neurocognitive impairments, etc.
As already mentioned, psychoactive substances are known to cause mood-fluctuations and hence, the major cause for mood instability. This mood-enhancing factor of psychoactive drugs is the only reason that they are used recreationally. This is more commonly seen with sedative drugs like cannabis, cocaine and alcohol. The positive feeling one experience after taking these drugs is opposite to unpleasant abstinence feelings. Sometimes these drugs may cause unwanted mood changes such as, a feeling of tension, depression, anxiety, suspiciousness, paranoia, etc. after alcohol consumption. Similarly, with cannabis usage, initial positive mood reaction leads a person to become a regular user, while those with initial negative mood reactions did not become depended on it. The most euphoriant drug known is, ecstasy, yet it is known to induce positive and negative emotions. Laboratory studies have shown that an acute dose of the drug significantly increases the feeling of introversion and extroversion. High doses of psychoactive drugs can be associated with intense negative moods. More extreme mood reactions can lead to unpredictable behavior.
Drug Withdrawal and Mood Fluctuations:
The major problem with these drugs is reversion to an opposite mood state when the drug effect is gone. These mood states are generally negative and subside when the drug is taken again. Thus, this shows the addiction potential of the drug. Drugs such as nicotine, cocaine, MDMA, show such a pattern of mood swings. Nicotine and cocaine are considered powerful stimulants of the Central Nervous System, and are known to increase the heart rate. This is why an increased sense of alertness is felt by tobacco smokers after taking the first cigarette of the day. But the effect is not long-lasting and subsides within the next 30 minutes arousing the need for another cigarette. This mood fluctuation becomes a part of their life and continues to occur until they quit smoking or die. Similar mood fluctuations are seen with cocaine. When a cocaine user does a nasal snorting, it results in quick hit with the person, thus feeling great pleasure. It is then followed by a great urge for the person to take another snort. Even sedative drugs such as cannabis show a similar pattern of mood swings on drug withdrawal. Cannabis presents with various withdrawal symptoms which might vary from person to person. These include, anxiety, altered sleep, a changed appetite, drug cravings, impaired sleep, etc.
Other Effects Of Psychoactive Drugs:
Drug stimulation and withdrawal also affects other psychological functions. One common example is decreased memory in tobacco smokers than non-tobacco smokers. This is because constantly changing nicotine levels affect the information being laid down in memory and its retrieval.Inability to get the drug even results in suicidal thoughts and sometimes users do commit suicide. Drug dependent clinical disability is seen in some individuals when drug becomes unavailable to them. Regular cannabis users show both clinical psychosis and psychiatric disorders. It is associated with mental health conditions such as mania and depression. Other adverse psychiatric consequences include, tremors, eating disorders, aggression, weight control issues, clinical depression, and some of these symptoms continue for years even after drug cessation. Apart from mood fluctuations, other cognitive functions are also affected which include, neurocognition. Certain CNS stimulants speed up information processing but also increases error due to increase carelessness, reduced alertness, and impulsivity. Consumption of drugs can be harmful to practical skills such as driving. Also, they result in impaired learning, memory, and motor skills, decreased intelligence.Neuroimaging studies have shown deficits in areas of brain such as amygdala and hippocampus, especially in cannabis users. There occur white matter degeneration and demyelination.They also affect Hypothalamus Pituitary and Adrenal gland axis (HPA axis) resulting in hormonal dysfunction and there is a great risk for developing stress. The balance between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system is also disturbed in psychoactive drug users. Thus keeping all these points in mind, psychoactive drugs cannot always be regarded as beneficial.
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