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Drugs Alcohol and Behavior
Understanding the states of consciousness related to the use of alcohol and other drugs and the affects they have on behavior
Drugs that produce altered states of consciousness are stimulants, depressants, narcotics, and hallucinogens.
Stimulant drugs such as caffeine have an arousal effect on the central nervous system, and cause a rise in heart rate, blood pressure, and muscular tension. Other stimulant drugs include nicotine, amphetamines, methamphetamine, and cocaine. Often times these drugs work by stimulating neurotransmitters. Cocaine for example produces it’s high through the neurotransmitter dopamine which transmits messages which are related to pleasure
Depressant drugs, being the opposite of stimulants, give the user a low feeling. Alcohol, the most commonly used drug is a depressant. Depressants cause neurons to fire slowly which results in temporary feelings of intoxication along with a sense of joy. Barbiturates and Rohypnol are also forms of depressants.
Narcotics are drugs that are used commonly to relieve pain and anxiety. Morphine and heroin are examples of narcotic drugs. These drugs create such a feeling of pleasure that when the effects wear off, the pain and anxiety comes back even stronger.
Hallucinogens are drugs that produce hallucinations or changes in the perceptual process. A hallucinogen drug such as marijuana magnifies good feelings as well as bad and often times it causes users to become depressed. Other hallucinogens such as ecstasy and LSD affect the operation of the neurotransmitter serotonin which causes an alteration in perception.
Feldman, R. S., (2009). Understanding Psychology (9th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.