Psychoactive Drugs

How do they change us?

What are they?

A psychoactive drug, psychopharmaceutical, or psychotropic is a chemical substance that changes brain function and results in alterations in perception, mood, or consciousness


Stimulants are psychoactive drugs that induce temporary improvements in either mental or physical functions or both. Examples of these kinds of effects may include enhanced alertness, wakefulness, and locomotion, among others.


A depressant, or central depressant, is a drug that lowers neurotransmitter levels, which is to depress or reduce arousal or stimulation, in various areas of the brain.


Opiates are analgesic alkaloid compounds found naturally in the opium poppy plant Papaver somniferum. The psychoactive compounds found in the opium plant include morphine, codeine, and thebaine.

Psychedelic Drugs

Include LSD (“acid”), psilocybin mushrooms, mescaline (found in peyote), ibogaine, salvia, and DMT (found in ayahuasca). Psychedelic substances have been used for thousands of years for religious and therapeutic purposes.

How do they affect us?

Classic hallucinogens are thought to produce their perception-altering effects by acting on neural circuits in the brain that use the neurotransmitter serotonin (Passie, 2008; Nichols, 2004; Schindler, 2012; Lee, 2012). Specifically, some of their most prominent effects occur in the prefrontal cortex—an area involved in mood, cognition, and perception—as well as other regions important in regulating arousal and physiological responses to stress and panic.

Fun Facts

1. Cannabis seeds were used as a food source in China as early as 6000 B.C.

2. Paraguay is believed to be the world’s largest producer of marijuana.

3. In 2003, Canada became the first country in the world to offer medical marijuana to pain-suffering patients.