Psychoactive substances are drugs or chemicals that have an effect on the central nervous system (CNS). The National Institute of Drug Abuse defines drug abuse or drug dependence as a condition in which the use of a legal or illegal drug causes physical, mental, emotional, or social harm. Drug usage impairs one's ability to function in daily activities of living and in work environments. Relationships with family and friends become impaired and dysfunctional.
Psychoactive DRG Category:
Substance Abuse Description:
Most of the abused drugs fall into two main categories, CNS depressants and CNS stimulants. CNS depressants include narcotics, sedatives, barbiturates, tranquilizers, and inhalants. The desired effect by the user is a sense of increased self-esteem, euphoria, relaxation, and relief from pain and anxiety. CNS stimulants include amphetamines, hallucinogens, and cocaine. The desired effect by the user is a sense of well-being, alertness, excitation, overconfidence, and increased initiative.
Tolerance to the drug results in the need for increasing amounts, and the physiological and psychological dependence on the drug leads to maladaptive behaviors. Attempts to discontinue or control use of the drug lead to withdrawal symptoms, which, if left untreated, can range from feeling flulike symptoms to coma and possibly death. The withdrawal from a drug produces feelings and sensations opposite of the effects produced by using the drug. Withdrawal can be treated to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Chronic abuse of psychoactive substances may lead to complications, including pulmonary emboli, respiratory infections, trauma, musculoskeletal dysfunctions, psychosis, malnutrition disturbances, gastrointestinal disturbances, hepatitis, thrombophlebitis, bacterial endocarditis, gangrene, and coma.
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