Essay Sample on Psychoactive Drugs: Effects on the Brain & Behavior

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1175 Words
Date:  2023-01-04


Psychoactive drugs are substances which when consumed; affect the central nervous system in the human body. This has a direct effect on the function of the brain. After the consumption of psychoactive drugs, there are significant changes in the behavior, perceptions, or consciousness (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2006). Healthcare facilities may prescribe some of the psychoactive drugs for treatment purposes of underlying health conditions meaning that they are taken with a limit. Some people may use drugs for recreational purposes, which then has a high probability of triggering addiction and reliance on the use of such drugs. Psychoactive drugs are broadly classified into stimulants, opioids, depressants, and hallucinogens. Heroin is a type of opioid that is sold in the illegal market. It is addictive and is a simplified form of morphine, a medical drug used in the management of specific health conditions.

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The physical and psychological effects of using heroin include a smooth sensation as a warm flush sweeps across the body(Strang et al., 2015). The mouth feels dry and one may have itchy skin. A nauseous feeling overwhelms the user with some users vomiting. This is achieved as heroin binds the opioid receptors in the nervous system. Dopamine is one of the main chemicals released by the body after consumption of heroin. The psychological effects on the use of heroin include confusion, decreased body temperature and heart rate (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2011). The brain's function to critically think is affected especially when an individual consumes a high amount of heroin. The purity of the drug and mode of administration to the body affects the reaction the user has both in the short-term and in the long-term. For instance, there is a faster reaction when one injects the drug into the bloodstream than when sniffing it through the nose. The usage of heroin on the body increases the risk of death for users.

Some of the most common intoxication signs and withdrawal symptoms include drowsiness and sedation (Doweiko, 2015; Strang et al., 2015). An individual may have euphoric feelings and hallucinations. When a person makes the conscious decision of putting an end to the use of heroin, he or she may experience withdrawal symptoms, justifying the need to seek medical attention to facilitate the process. This is because the symptoms may pose danger to the user. For instance, one may have hallucinations, heart problems which can either accelerate or reduction, convulsions, depression or anxiety, diarrhea, and vomiting, amongst others (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2006). Withdrawing consumption of heroin necessitates the need to engage in a program or rehabilitation process to help through the transition process. The caregivers in a healthcare station manage the withdrawal symptoms as they monitor the process to reduce the dependence rate and subsequent cravings.

Heroin has a high addiction potential as users become over-dependent on it after consuming it for the first time (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 2005). This is because the consumption of heroin enters the central nervous system, triggering dependence. Users may find it difficult to resist the desire and urge to consume more heroin intake even after using it for a small period. If one is addicted to this drug, detoxification can be considered. The detoxification process enables the addicts to safely manage the withdrawal symptoms and complications that may arise both in the short-term and in the long-term. The need for detoxification is determined depending on the condition of an addict (Doweiko, 2015). The medical personnel evaluates the withdrawal symptoms on the psychological wellbeing of the users, with the main aim of reducing chances of self-harm, complications, or relapses. Most times, the drug addict is admitted to a rehabilitation center where caregivers and personnel closely observe the individual and help manage the withdrawal symptoms.

During the detoxification process, the rehab practitioners prescribe certain types of drugs that ease the withdrawal negative effects as they enhance the recovery process. Some of the commonly used drugs in the detoxification process are naltrexone, methadone, and buprenorphine(Strang et al., 2015). Each drug works specifically as they inhibit and block brain receptors that had become activated during the drug abuse process. The drugs do not have sedation or addictive feeling, meaning that once addicts are through with the rehabilitation process, they do not need to use the recovery drugs in the future. Addicted patients need 24-hour medical attention from rehabilitation practitioners who attend to an individual until one has attained a certain level of stability. Patients that are not admitted at a rehabilitation program and only need to attend their sessions have a high probability or relapsing since they may fail to be accountable of their drug usage and reliance, unlike the inpatient addicts that are under surveillance from the practitioners all the time.

Certain circumstances are more likely to trigger use after an initial period of abstinence in patients (Strang et al., 2015). For instance, maintaining contact with the friends or suppliers of drugs, lack of jobs that keep the former addicts busy, or peer pressure. Patients that do not have an internal drive to stay out of drugs are more likely to relapse and go back to abusing drugs even after going through a rehabilitation process that made them have a detoxification procedure to kick out the drugs from their central nervous system.

My sibling was addicted to heroin and during his rehabilitation process, the medical experts recommended buprenorphine for the detoxification. This enabled him to get gradually get rid of the cravings. He did not experience severe withdrawal symptoms like having aches in his muscles or vomit. At the end of a six-month period, he was able to recover and did not go back to the usage of drugs. He secured employment and was able to keep his mind busy with job-related activities, diverting his thoughts to engage in something constructive.


Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2005).Medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction in opioid treatment programs: Quick guide for clinicians based on TIP 43. DHHS Publication No.(SMA) 05-4107. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Doweiko, H. E. (2015). Concepts of chemical dependency (10th ed.).Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Strang, J., Groshkova, T., Uchtenhagen, A., van den Brink, W., Haasen, C., Schechter, M. T., ... & Simon, R. (2015). Heroin on trial: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials of diamorphine-prescribing as treatment for refractory heroin addiction. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 207(1), 5-14.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2006). Detoxification and substance abuse treatment, Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No.45, HHS Publication No.(SMA) 13-4131.

Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2011). Tobacco use cessation during substance abuse treatment counseling.Advisory, Volume 10, Issue 2.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2012). General principles for the use of pharmacological agents to treat individuals with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders. HHS Publication No. SMA-12-4689. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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