Psychoactive Drugs in clinical psychology: A perspective

Psychoactive Drugs

In the field of clinical psychology, psychoactive drugs play a part to some extent. For the treatment of several mental illnesses, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Clinical Depression and several other psychiatric problems, t6hese psychoactive drugs play an important role in the treatment of these diseases, but do they really serve the purpose, or they are just pills made of water? And even if they do really work, what are the harmful side effects of these drugs and to what extent one should rely on such methods of treatment?

To understand the issue, we must first understand what Psychoactive Drugs really are and what they do to a person’s mind. Psychoactive drugs alter the consciousness of a human mind and change it’s through perception process. The application of these drugs was meant for therapeutic purposes, but is not limited; these drugs are also used for recreational purposes and amount to substance abuse. Although using psychoactive drugs for recreational purpose are banned throughout the world. Essentially, these drugs alter the reality of a human in different ways depending upon the type and potency of the drug administered.

Broadly speaking, there are three type of Psychoactive drugs which are used since an age old time for recreational [purposes. The three categories are namely: Depressant, Stimulant and Psychedelic drugs.

Depressant is that category of psychoactive drugs, which when ingested (through any mode whatsoever) reduce the amount of neural activity resulting from the reduction in the level of neurotransmission. This further either depresses the person, or reduces the arousal or stimulation thus causing a feeling of depression. The effects of using Depressants include Ataxia, Pain Relief Sedation, Euphoria, Muscle relaxation, Sedation and lowered heart rate and even death at higher doses. Medically they are used to relive the symptoms of Anxiety, Insomnia, Seizure and few other mental illnesses. The most common type of Depressants is Alcohol, Heroin, Morphine, Codeine and few other substances. Few of them are still in use but substances such as Heroin are banned for their counterproductive results.

Stimulants are those substances which increase the amount of mental activity in the brain. Also known as psychostimulents, they induce temporary improvements in the mental or physical function, even both together in some cases. Due to their characteristic feeling of an upped state, these drugs are also referred as ‘Uppers’. These drugs are in absolute contrast to the class of depressant drugs and perform exactly the opposite action. Stimulants are often used throughout the world as prescription medicines or as illicit drugs amounting to substance abuse. The most common type of effects one can expect after administering this category of drugs are, Enhanced alertness, wakefulness and Locomotion among various other minor feature. The prescription use of these drugs is in the case of ADHD, Lethargy, and Obesity (as the drug decreases appetite) among several other mental problems. Some of the major types of stimulants are Nicotine, Caffeine, Methamphetamine and several others.

Hallucinogens or Psychedelic Drugs are those types of drugs which cause an alteration in the though perception process of the person who administers these drugs. Essentially illegal, sometimes these kind of psychedelic drugs are used for clinical purposes as well. These drugs work in a certain way to produce changes in thoughts, perception, emotions and consciousness.  The most common effects are, hallucinations, altered state of consciousness, affect on short term memory and such effects. The most widely used Psychedelic drugs are, Cannabis LSD, and several other drugs.

All these categories of drugs, used for clinical or implicit purposes, produce an altered state of consciousness when administered, and overdose of any of these can cause a significant deterioration in the person’s mental health leading to serious loss of cognitive and muscular abilities, and in some cases, death.

We have seen the effects of all f these drugs on the human body and instead of repairing the body, these drugs cause further harm to the person’s mental health if not controlled and administered in a proper channelled way under medical supervision. The use of Psychoactive drugs is receding from the world gradually with many doctors abstaining from prescribing their patient the use of such drugs, often residing to non-chemical ways of healing involving remedies such as meditation and group therapy programmes, these ways of treating mental illnesses have shown some promising results in the last few decades in retrieving mental health’s of those concerned.