Psychoactive Drugs and Their Effects
This paper discusses three different psychoactive drugs, one from each classification, and their general psychological and physical effects. Cocaine, a stimulant, Cannabis, a hallucinogen and Oxycodone, a depressant will be covered. Positive, neutral and adverse effects will be discussed as well as long-term use and withdrawal symptoms. Cannabis has a section regarding its medicinal use in society.
Cocaine is a naturally derived central nervous system (CNS) stimulant and topical anesthetic that is extracted and refined from the Erythroxylum coca plant, which is grown primarily in the Andean region of South America. Coca leaf chewing has been around for thousands of years. The drug was first isolated in the 1850’s and had medicinal use through the late 19th century. Recreational use became a problem in the early 20th century and became illegal is the United States in 1914. The chemical name for cocaine is benzoyl methyl ecgonine; it is a bitter, white, odorless crystalline drug. Cocaine has multiple methods of ingestion; it can be insufflated, taken orally or intravenously. It can be smoked to some degree, but tends to burn rather than vaporize because of the high temperature required. Freebase cocaine vaporizes at smoking temperatures and creates a more intense high whilst using less product. Street terminology consists of coke, snow, nose candy, white, blow and soft, among others. Freebase is known as crack, rock and hard, among others.
Cocaine interferes with the reabsorption of dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. The buildup of these neurotransmitters in the brain create the high the user seeks. The general effects of using the drug are feelings of well-being/euphoria, stimulation, sexual arousal, increased focus, alertness, wakefulness, talkativeness, athletic performance, energy, decreased fatigue and appetite. Physical effects include increased heart rate, blood pressure, speed of respiration and body temperature. The user may also experience agitation, anxiety, paranoia, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, hostility/violent behavior, dilated pupils, insomnia, irritability and restlessness. In some cases it has caused kidney failure, seizures, strokes and heart attacks. High doses may make the individual show patterns of psychosis with confused and disorganized behavior, fear, hallucinations or being extremely antisocial. Overdosing on cocaine can cause hallucinations, convulsions, hyperthermia, stroke, heart attack and possible death. People with latent congenital heart defects, epilepsy, and high blood pressur