How do you define psychoactive and addictive drugs?

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Psychoactive drugs are in a specific category. They significantly impact the body's central nervous system, altering a person's normal activities. A person using psychoactive drugs can experience changes in mood, behavior, and a loss of judgment. The drugs impact the nervous system by disrupting the communication between neurons inside the brain. Psychoactive drugs can be split into several categories: there are depressants (alcohol, for example), stimulants (like nicotine, ecstasy, and even caffeine), opioids (like heroin and pain medications), and hallucinogens (like LSD).

Depressants often induce feelings of relief, muscle relaxation, and a reduction of anxiety. However, if overused, they can have frightening effects like comas and even death. Stimulants create heightened alertness, greater energy, and even a feeling of euphoria. Like depressants, however, they carry their own concerning effects, such as heart palpitations, hallucinations, and again, death. Opioids are often prescribed for pain, but the abuse of opioids also has serious consequences. Hallucinogens can cause hallucinations, depersonalization, paranoia, and increased blood pressure and heart rate.

Addictive drugs lead a person to be unable to control the use of a drug. It can start even with using a drug just once, and the person will slowly need more and more of that drug over time to experience its effects. The brain and body become more addicted to the drug over time, sometimes so severely that stopping use of the drug can cause painful symptoms in the body. Some drugs are more addictive than others. Opioids, for example, are often thought to be one of the most addictive substances, and opioid overdose is a leading cause of death in the United States.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 3, 2020
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