What is a “drug”? • Broadly speaking, a drug is any substance that, when absorbed into the body of a living organism, alters normal bodily function. • There is no single, precise definition, as there are different meanings in drug control law, government regulations, medicine, and recreational usage • We will view the term drug through three different perspectives: medical utility, illegality, psychoactivity
Defining the term “Drug” • According to the Medical Utility model, a drug is defined as a substance that is used to treat or heal the body or mind • Here, drugs are used to return the user to a state of normalcy, removing that which is pathological, abnormal or unnatural • Examples: Penicillin, Aleve, Benadryl
Defining the term “Drug” • A psychoactive drug is any substance that has an effect on the mind • Cocaine • Alcohol • Vicodin • Marijuana
Defining the term “Drug” • In defining a drug based on the substance’s legal status, it would have to be determined whether possession or sale of the substance is legal or illegal. • Alcohol (example: 4Loko) • Marijuana • Tylenol w/Codeine
Drug Use • Instrumental: users take the drug out of necessity • Example: Using Xanax to quell anxiety • Recreational: users take the drug simply to achieve a “buzz” or “high” • Example: Smoking marijuana to “feel good”
Psychopharmacology • Here, we are looking at the impact of drugs on the mind • The actions of some drugs can conduce (lead/contribute to) certain behaviors • Many drugs have extreme toxicity, and others produce a powerful dependence in users
Abuse & Dependence: What’s the Difference? • Drug abuse refers to a maladaptive pattern of use of a substance that is not considered dependent • Dependence refers to the continued use of the drug despite problems related to use of the substance. Compulsive and repetitive use may result in tolerance to the effect of the drug and withdrawal symptoms when use is reduced or stopped
Drug Dependence Can Be… • Physical: a process by which the body adjusts to and comes to need the drug for its everyday functioning. • Psychological: a desire to obtain or use a drug even though the physical dependence is not present
Effects • Acute: one’s immediate reaction to taking a drug, ie: overdose, motor discoordination • Chronic: the long term results of continued usage of a substance, ie: cirrhosis of the liver after 30 years of heavy drinking, lung cancer after decades of smoking
Tolerance • Pharmacological: over time, neurons become increasingly insensitive to a drug, so the drug becomes decreasingly ineffective • Cross: use of one drug leads to tolerance of a similar drug, ie: tolerance of heroin will produce tolerance to morphine, both are narcotics • Behavioral: refers to an experienced users compensation for the effects of a given drug, ie: an experienced drinker may have trained themselves to “drive” under the influence, as opposed to someone who has taken a few drinks and gotten behind the wheel for the first time.
Routes of Administration • Intravenously (IV) • Smoking • Inhalation • Oral
Classification of Psychoactive Drugs • Depressants: temporarily reduce the function or activity of a specific part of the body or brain. Also known as “downers” • When used, the effects may include cognitive/memory impairment, muscle relaxation, lowered blood pressure/heart rate, and possible feelings of euphoria
Classification of Psychoactive Drugs • Stimulants: induce temporary improvements in either mental or physical function or both. Also known as “uppers” • These kinds of effects may include enhanced alertness, wakefulness, and locomotion, among others. Feelings of euphoria may also be felt, however, many stimulants can also cause anxiety and heart failure.
Classification of Psychoactive Drugs • Hallucinogens: can cause subjective changes in perception, thought, emotion and consciousness • Dissociative Anesthetics: reduce or block signals to the conscious mind from other parts of the brain, yet they have the ability to induce hallucinogenic effects
Classification of Psychoactive Drugs • Narcotics are powerful drugs that give users feelings of euphoria, yet have a notably powerful sleep-inducing property