DRUG EFFECTS on the nervous system

  • Jul 26, 2021
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Effects of drugs on the nervous system

The reasons why people decide to consume a substance can be very diverse, however among all of them the desire to achieve an immediate effect that induces them to certain effects produced by the alterations caused by the substance in our system highly strung. However, the immediacy of its effects that is sought in its consumption, can become permanent consequences that can accompany us throughout our lives.

What are the drugs that affect the nervous system? What effects do drugs have on the brain? It is very important to know the different effects of drugs on the nervous system and the possible consequences that they can generate in the short and long term. If you want to know them in detail, keep reading this Psychology-Online article.

What are drugs?

For a substance to be considered a drug, it must be a substance that, when administered by any route of administration, can modify one or more functions of our central nervous system (pleasure, pain reduction, disinhibition, stimulation, perceptual alteration, or overcoming of physical or intellectual performance, etc.) and can reach

produce a state of dependency physical and / or psychological and to produce a tolerance, where each time the effects are less.

Drug effects

What effect do drugs have on the nervous system? Drugs alter brain function by modifying the production, release, or breakdown of neurotransmitters brain in such a way that there is a modification in the natural process of neuronal intercommunication.

The modification of neurotransmitters, produced in excess, produces changes in our brain as a consequence of chemical imbalance produced. However, we must bear in mind that the different effects of drugs on the central nervous system will be different depending on the drug consumed. Let's see what are the differences between the different groups of substances according to the WHO drug classification.

What are depressant drugs?

Central nervous system depressant drugs have the function of depressing and slowing down our central nervous system, depressing first its superior functions of the CNS and later of the autonomic nervous system, causing a general and progressive numbness of our brain.

Effects of depressant drugs

  • Relaxation
  • Inner peace
  • Welfare
  • Sedation
  • Apathy
  • Decreased tension
  • Tranquility
  • Harmony with oneself

Types of depressant drugs

Within the depressant drugs we can find three large families, which will produce different effects on the functioning of our nervous system:

  1. Opium and its derivatives (codeine, heroin, methadone, etc.): in general they produce a state of relaxation, indifference, tranquility, inability to concentrate and euphoria.
  2. Alcohol and its derivatives: at low doses, it produces an apparent stimulating, disinhibiting and euphoric capacity. However, its depressant effect increases with the dose and can cause sleep, coma and cardiorespiratory arrest. In this article you will find the effects of alcohol on the brain.
  3. Hypnotics and sedatives: they produce in our nervous system a state of relaxation and drowsiness or sleep.

What are stimulant drugs

Central nervous system stimulant drugs accelerate the normal functioning of the brain, thereby causing an arousal state. This brain acceleration produces consequences on the functioning of the nervous system.

Effects of stimulant drugs

  • Euphoria
  • Disinhibition
  • Poor emotional control
  • Irritability
  • Aggressiveness
  • Decreased fatigue
  • Decreased sleep
  • Motor arousal
  • Restlessness

Types of stimulant drugs

Within stimulant drugs we can find three large families, which will produce different effects on the functioning of our nervous system:

  1. Coca and cocaine: inhibits the feelings of fatigue, sleep and hunger, facilitates the feelings of vigor, lucidity and omnipotence.
  2. Amphetamines: they are synthetic substances, related to adrenaline and ephedrine. They produce a feeling of alertness, energy, euphoria, increased activity and communication, loss of appetite and sleep.
  3. Tobacco and its active ingredient, nicotine: the subjective effects sought by the consumer are a combination of the exciting and depressant effects. In this article you can find more detailed effects of nicotine on the nervous system.

What are hallucinogen drugs

Hallucinogenic drugs produce important effects on the nervous system, recognized above all for their involvement in the distortion produced on perception and sensations.

Effects of hallucinogenic drugs

  • Altered state of consciousness
  • Thought disturbance
  • Mood disturbance
  • Distortion on perception and sensations

Types of hallucinogenic drugs

Within psychedelic drugs we can find two large families, which will produce different effects on the functioning of our nervous system:

  1. Cannabis: it produces alterations in perception with euphoria, disinhibition, decreased memory, attention span, a certain degree of confusion and drowsiness, hilarity and relaxation.
  2. Hallucinogens: This substance produces an interruption between the interaction of our nerve cells and the neurotransmitter serotonin, with this there are alterations on perception, which can lead to hallucinations and / or delusions, behavior, state of mood, decreased appetite, changes in body temperature and sexual behavior, hyperactivity and confusion mental.

The consequences generated by the temporary and prolonged use of these substances can be very diverse and can reach high levels of severity. The effects of a specific consumption are different than the consequences of being an addict. The consequences of addictions include both the physical consequences of drug use and the psychological and social effects of drugs. Each group of substances and each specific substance could cause countless consequences differentiated between them, however, we are going to point out the consequences of the most frequent and common:

1. Cardiovascular damage

Some of the drug families, such as cocaine, can cause cardiovascular damage. Its acute consumption produces an important increased blood pressure and heart rate, which may be accompanied by an increase in body temperature. These cardiovascular alterations are responsible for the main acute complications that can occur, among which it is worth highlighting their severity cerebral hemorrhage and myocardial infarction. These complications can cause permanent sequelae of particular importance when those affected are young.

2. Nervous system disorders

Drugs can produce serious short-term and long-term alterations in the system that are manifested in the neurological and psychiatric sphere. In this sense, chronic users frequently have memory and concentration impairments, irritability, increased anxiety and loss of motivation. At the psychiatric level, the incidence of psychotic disorders and in particular of paranoid symptoms it is also high.

3. Tolerance on reward circuits

Drugs produce an overactivity in the reward circuits of our organism, causing feelings for example of euphoria, increased motivation, of the sexual activity, increased social interactions,… However, when the person adapts to the substance, his sensitivity to these actions decreases causing difficulties being able to feel pleasure first of all without the consumption of the substance, for this reason, great difficulties have been observed in the sexual sphere, because of sexual dysfunctions such as erectile dysfunction, impotence, or anorgasmia.

4. Alteration on mood

Mood alterations are very common in substance use. Mood swings can occur either as a result of substance use or as a result of withdrawal. However, on many occasions the prolonged consumption of these substances can cause a permanent change in the personality of the person, which is not related to the consumption or lack of it.

5. Increased discomfort

Abstinence from the substance to which the person is addicted produces feelings of irritability, anxiety, stress and / or restlessness and therefore the person uses again. Over time and with increasing consumption, this circuit becomes shorter and shorter, causing the person to always feel this discomfort and its consumption is no longer to achieve a state of relaxation or euphoria, well consume to alleviate this discomfort.

6. Affection in all areas

One of the frequent consequences of drug addiction is having problems in other areas. In addition to eliminating (or decreasing) substance use, additional problems must be addressed. Because when consuming substances it is normal for them to appear problems in the labor, legal, family, social and / or economic areas.

It is very frequent that the consumption of substances leads the person to have family problems, causing a distancing from the family nucleus. It also happens in social relationships or at work, because for example, in the face of the lack of consumer interest or decreased performance, you may lose your job or establish a isolation.

If you want to know more about what addictions are and the causes of addictions, you can find more information in this article: Drug addiction.

This article is merely informative, in Psychology-Online we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend a treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.

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