5.3 the effects of drugs on consciousness Flashcards Preview

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psychoactive drugs

non-food substances that we ingest for the purpose of altering our psychological state
understanding the consequence of ingesting any kind of psychoactive drug depends on distinguishing between short term and long term affects.
in the short term: all of the psychoactive drugs is in the connection b/w neurons, their synapses, they have effects drugs because they alter the likelyhood that processes occurring in the synapse will cause neurons to fire or not to fire


short term drug effects




drugs that increase the amount of neuron transmitters available in the synapse b/w neurons
-one way drugs alter the amount of a neurotransmitter present in the synapses b/w neurons is by increasing how much of the neurotransmitter is released by the terminal buttons at the end of the axon of the presynaptic neuron
-some agonist drugs mimic a neurotransmitter, allowing them to bind with and activate receptor sites



drugs that decrease the amount of neurotransmitters available in the synapse b/w neurons
one way is by preventing the reuptake of a neurotransmitter after it has been released by the synaptic neuron
some antagonist drugs block neurotransmitter receptor sites


The brain and psychoactive drugs

many famous psychoactive drugs such as cocaine or meth effect the neurotransmitter dopamine the release of dopamine in two key centres of the brain the nucleus accumbens and the ventral tegmental (VTA) gives people profound feelings of pleasure. this pleasure generates the possibility that some people find it difficult to resist taking the drug again to achieve these feelings of pleasure


a familiar drug dosage can be fatal in an unfamiliar context

they can can the same dosage of a drug that they have safely taken many times before in an unfamiliar context and the effect can be stronger or fatal because the body is unprepared


experience with a drug contributes to the effect

someone who is used to consuming alcohol will be effected less at a particular amount of drinking than someone who hasn't spent so much time drinking


expectations about drug effects contribute to drug effects

the influence of expectations are so strong that people can act high or drunk just by ingesting placebos that they believe are drugs or alcoholic


drugs are just one of many things that effect our brain processes

expectations, situation the person is in and experience can modify drug effects because those factors influence brain processes in the same way that drugs influence brain processes


going about our daily lives also changes the structure of our brains

drugs can effect people but so can what a person is doing or thinks will happen, where they are, the people around them and their life experiences all of those things influence how a person thinks, feels and acts, by modifying the activity of neurons in the brain, in that way there is nothing special about drugs
the patterns of activity in our brain are constantly changing and taking drugs is simply one influence of many factors that can alter our brain processes


long term drug effects

withdrawal symptoms
physical dependence
psychological dependence



a person requires increasing doses of a drug in order to experience the same psychological effects


withdrawal symptoms

negative side effects that occur after terminating regular use of a drug


physical dependence

inability to stop taking a drug because of withdrawal symptom avoidance


psychological dependence

habitual use of a drug to suppress negative psychological states, (eg, depression, anxiety, remembering traumatic experiences), rather than to avoid withdrawal symptoms


addiction has different causes for different people

drug addicts are victims of a genetically inherited biology that responds to strongly to the effect of a drug or they have had stressful or traumatic life experiences that leave them vulnerable to mental health problems or they may find themselves in a stressful, dangerous, or miserable environment


our culture has various roles to play in generating addictions

there are aspects of our society that increase the chance that someone will develop the habit of consuming one or more psychoactive drugs


stigmatization of drug users maximizes the harm of drug addiction

what drug users need most is help and compassion, which is very hard to find, especially since the stigma towards these people are so harshly negative
stigma means that the person has acquired a mark of disgrace, the overly simple and incorrect view that drug addicts are bad people that should be punished and isolated from everyone easily qualifies as a stigma. and these stigmas are the opposite of what these people need to overcome their addiction, it reduced the chance addicts will search for the help they need in the first place, in order for others to discover their drug use, they might be banned from families or jobs and punished


categories of psychoactive drugs

hallucinogenic drugs
opiates of narcotics



increase nervous system activity and give a person pleasurable experiences by making them more alert and quickening their energy levels and mental processes
(caffeine, cocaine)
usually generate their effects by increasing the amount of dopamine within neural synapses


ecstasy or MDNA

is a stimulant that increase the amount of seratonin (gives us strongly pleasurable physical sensations and feelings of affections for others) within neural synapses
also dangerously increases body heat and causes extreme life threatening levels of dehydration


Hallucinogenic drugs

alter one's perception of reality and can produce vividly detailed auditory, visual, or tactile perceptions in the absence of any sensory input
like dreams while people are conscious and awake
LSD is the most potent kind



has stimulant, hallucinogenic, and narcotic properties
the active ingredient in marijuana is Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, which mimics the neurotransmitter, anandamide
both substances generate feelings of euphoria and relaxation, distort perception, and stimulate appetite
effective treatment for pain because it helps mellowness
short term effects: speed and accuracy on memory and decision making tasks
long term effects: lowers your IQ, most dangerous for brains that are still developing


Opiates or Narcotics

are similar in chemical structure to a class of neurotransmitters called endorphins
-painkilling properties and their tendency to generate powerful feelings of well being and euphoria
running actually releases endorphins and thats why people can get addicted to running



reduce alertness and mental activity, generating profound feelings of drowsiness and relaxation



increases the among of GABA within synapses, impairing motor coordination and lowering inhibitions
also increases dopamine and endorphin levels, numbing pain and generating feelings of pleasure at lower doses


alcohol consumption is associated with a number of social problems

sexual assault
physical violence
intimate partner violence
unwanted pregnancy
automobile and workplace accidents
long term alcohol consumption is associated with a number of serious health problems (liver and heart disease and brain damage)


drug effects

the way we experience the world emerges from the biochemical processes that occur in our brains
drugs modify the structure of brain processes
drug-any substance that we ingest for the purpose of affecting some aspect of our physiology but not for the purpose of simple nourishment and satisfying our appetite

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