Drugs, whether illicit or prescribed have always been a huge part of human history. The evolution of correct dosage and side effects has changed the way a lot of drugs are used and prescribed. For instance, back in the cowboy day’s opium was prescribed for everything from a common cold, to chronic headaches. Over time doctors and patients figured out that it was a highly addictive drug and caused more harm than good for simple ailments. Drugs in the past were more on a trial and error basis, and not much was truly known about the long term effects. Now, drug manufacturers list all the ingredients of medications and the compiled research on the effects of each. Today, knowledge is key.
Types of Drugs and Their Effects
Stimulants are psychoactive drugs that increase activity in the brain. These are still considered drugs and are known to increase awareness, mood, and alertness. Stimulants can be prescribed for things like ADHD and narcolepsy or they can be found in everyday things like caffeine and nicotine. Cocaine and amphetamines are examples of illegal stimulants. According to Dingfelder, S. F. (October 2011, Vol 42, No. 9). , “Stimulant drug abuse packs a triple-whammy to people's decision-making abilities, hampering their reasoning and increasing impulsive and compulsive behaviors, according to research presented at APA's 2011 Annual Convention by Trevor W. Robbins, a behavioral and clinical neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge in England.
These three tendencies all have slightly different origins in the brain, he said, but they all contribute to the story of stimulant drug addiction—clouding people's judgment during the early stages of addiction, and then making it harder for them to quit.
"These drug abusers ... have poisoned their frontal cortex and produced decision-making deficits," Robbins said.”
Depressants have the exact opposite effect of stimulants, they slow down the brain. The use of depressants can lead to slurred speech, low-blood pressure, poor concentration as well as impaired judgment and poor memory. The long term use of depressants can lead to addiction, chronic sleep problems, impaired sexual function, and even death. “Barbiturates are a class of drugs known as sedative-hypnotics, commonly prescribed for anxiety and insomnia. Commercial names include Amytal, Nembutal, and Phenobarbital.
Benzodiazepines (other than Flunitrazepam) are commonly prescribed as tranquilizers. These drugs are among the most widely prescribed medications in the US. Commercial names include Valium and Xanax.
Flunitrazepam, commercially known as Rohypnol, is a sedative associated with sexual assaults. This drug is not sold in the US, but may be brought in from other countries. Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is illegal in the US due to its sedative properties and frequent abuse in sexual assaults.” States Drugfree.org,(2014).
Opiates were originally designed as medications to relieve pain. Morphine, codeine, opium, and heroin are just a few examples. The use of opiates can cause drowsiness, reduced vision and shallow breathing. “Long-term use of opioids causes tolerance to develop so that in order to achieve the same degree of euphoria, larger and larger doses must be taken.” “When high doses have been taken for several weeks, a sudden withdrawal causes symptoms of discomfort similar to flu. These include aches, sweating and chills, tremor, sneezing and yawning and muscular spasms, all or some of which usually commence between 8 and 24 hours after the last dose of heroin. Although these effects usually fade within 7 to 10 days, feelings of weakness and loss of well being can last for several months.””Apathy and reduced appetite caused by drug use can lead to disease as a result of a poor diet, self neglect and bad housing conditions.”(What are Opiates. (2008).)
Hallucinogens cause “profound distortions in a person's perceptions of reality,