Psychoactive Drugs Drugs that affect the brain, changing consciousness and other psychological processes, are called psychoactive drugs. – 80-90% of adults in North America use some kind of drug on a daily basis. The study of psychoactive drugs is called psychopharmacology.
Psychopharmacology To affect the brain, a substance must cross the blood-brain barrier. Then the substance’s effect depends on a number of factors: – Which neurotransmitter is targeted? – How does the drug affect the neurotransmitter or its receptors? – What psychological functions are performed by the brain systems which use that neurotransmitter.
Psychopharmacology Agonist molecules mimic a neurotransmitter Antagonist molecules just block a receptor site.
Dependence Substance abuse may lead to psychological or physical dependence. – Psychological dependence: person continues use despite adverse effects, needs the substance for a sense of well-being, and becomes preoccupied. – Physical dependence: physiological state in which drug use is needed to prevent a withdrawal syndrome. Tolerance is when a larger dose is required to produce a similar effect as before. – Habit-forming: a person continues substance use out of sheer habit.
Spiders on DrugsA normal orb web On chloral hydrateOn benzadrine On caffeine
How do I know if I am abusing a substance? increased frequency of use loss of control over frequency, duration and/or amount of use drinking or using when you dont intend to substance use interferes with life activities (i.e. school, relationships with family and friends) increased spending money on substance of choice personality changes noted by self and others getting into risky/dangerous behaviors other people express concern about your use/ your behavior grades dropping missing classes and appointments legal trouble (i.e., DUI)
DSM IV: Addiction Substance is often taken in larger amounts or over longer period than intended Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the substance (e.g., visiting multiple doctors or driving long distances), use the substance (e.g., chain smoking), or recover from its effects Important social, occupational, or recreational activities given up or reduced because of substance abuse Continued substance use despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent psychological, or physical problem that is caused or exacerbated by use of the substance Tolerance, as defined by either: – need for read amounts of the substance in order to achieve intoxication or desired effect; or – markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount Withdrawal, as manifested by either: – characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the substance; or – the same (or closely related) substance is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms
When substance abuse becomes severe … loss of friends (except perhaps other substance abusers) negative changes in appetite with possible weight loss possible reduction or loss of libido … and/or only able to perform when using extreme mood swings, including anger and depression obsessions about using or procuring substance when not under the influence lying about substance to use to friends and loved ones loss of memory for times when under the influence uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when not using involvement in crime to support habit loss of energy and general health you are increasingly unable to believe your own denial and excuses
How can psychological therapy help? help clarify your pattern of abuse identify how your life has been affected help create strategies to decrease your use identify related issues that may contribute to your abuse if necessary, referral to more intensive treatment resource
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