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Tuesday, April 13, 2010


The psychotropic drugs act on the mind in various ways. Depending on how they act, they have been classified into four major groups given below.
(i) Sedatives and tranquillizers, e.g. valium, etc.
(ii) Opiate narcotics, e.g. opium, morphine, heroin, etc.
(iii) Stimulants, e.g. caffeine, cocaine, amphetamines, etc.
(iv) Hallucinogens, e.g. LSD, mescaline, charas, bhang, hashish, marijuana, etc.
Effects of the drugs according to classification are given below:

1 Sedatives and tranquillizers (depressant)

a. Valium, Calmpose, Trytanol
They depress the activity of central nervous system and produce a feeling of calmness and relaxation. They decrease anxiety temporarily and reduce the sensitivity to the world around the user. They bring drowsiness and in higher doses induce deep sleep. They help to relieve pain. So they are used by doctors to relieve pain, induce sleep and to reduce emotional anxiety. Tranquillizers are the drugs that reduce tension and anxiety, bring calmness without inducing sleep.

b. Barbiturates

Barbiturates are synthetic drugs commonly called as sleeping pills. They are used to decrease anxiety and induce sleep. As such they are not addictive but a person may develoCLASSIFICATION AND EFFECTS OF DRUGS ON HUMAN HEALTHp emotional dependence on them. In such cases it is difficult to withdraw from them as the person suffers from withdrawal symptoms when deprived of the drug. Barbiturates have two more severe hazards in the society: They are frequently used in higher doses for suicide. They are lethal for the body when taken with alcohol, can lead to tragic death.

2 Opiate narcotics or narcotic drugs

a. Opium
It can be taken orally in powder form, or inhaled (smoked) or taken in the form of injections. Opium is extracted from the juice of white poppy capsule Papaver somniferum. It is reddish brown, has strong smell and is bitter in taste. It is eaten or smoked. People addicted to opium, show loss of weight, sterility and total loss of interest in work. They show severe withdrawal symptoms if drug is not made available thus they degrade the human health. An overdose may stop respiration and lead to death.

b. Morphine and Codeine

Morphine is the active ingredient of opium and is used to relieve pain. It is valuable as an analgesic. It leads to addiction. Codeine is a mild analgesic. In small doses it does not cause addiction. It is an ingredient of certain medicines like cough syrups.

c. Heroin

Heroin is highly addictive and so dangerous to human health that its use in medicine is also illegal. It is taken orally, inhaled or injected. It is often diluted with harmful substances before injected into the human body. Also the needles or syringes used are not sterile. Hence these drugs addicts often suffer from secondary illness like blood poisoning, formation of abscess, serum hepatitis and AIDS. As heroin addicts are dependent on the drug, failure to get it causes severe withdrawal symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, shivering, twitching, perspiration, abdominal cramps and muscle cramps.

3 Stimulants

a. Caffeine
Caffeine is a mild stimulant and is found in the leaves of tea plant, seeds of coffee and cocoa plant. It is commonly taken in the form of beverages like tea, coffee, cocoa and cold drinks. It increases alertness and thought. Excessive use of caffeine causes addiction.

b. Cocaine

Cocaine is extracted from the leaves of the South American cocoa plant. (It is different from the beverage cocoa). Cocaine causes a feeling of excitement and increases self-confidence. It causes temporary stimulation of nervous system and feeling of enlightment. Later person gets a feeling of fear and turns violent. It is also used as local anesthesia by doctors.

c. Amphetemines

Amphetemines are synthetic drugs often used as pep pills. These are often taken by truck drivers and night workers to keep themselves awake, without realizing that these also cause blurred vision and impair judgement. Higher doses can cause hallucinations. Weight watchers use them to reduce their appetite.

4 Hallucinogens
Hallucinogens are also known as psychedelic, or mind expanding drugs. LSD, mescaline, psilocybin and products of hemp plants like charas, bhang, marijuana, hashish. Hallucinogens alter a person's thoughts, feeling and perceptions. The person claims to see sounds, and hear things that do not exist.

a. LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide)
LSD is the most dangerous hallucinogen. It is obtained from the argot fungus. An LSD drug even in very small amounts like 1 µg per kg of body weight induces psychedelic trips. The user sees bright lights, strange shapes and a feeling of outside their bodies. It causes severe damage to the nervous system.

b. Mescaline
Mescaline is extracted from the spineless cactus that grows in south – west America. The drug is used to get kicks CLASSIFICATION AND EFFECTS OF DRUGS ON HUMAN HEALTH pand has similar effects like other hallucinogens.
c. Psilocybin
Psilocybin is extracted from certain mushrooms. It is also taken to get kick and causes hallucinations.
d. Products of hemp plant charas, bhang and ganja, marijuana and hashish
All these are obtained from the dried leaves and flowers parts of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. These drugs are commonly taken by drug users in India. The reaction depends upon the amount and strength of drug used. The user feels relaxed, elated and high. However may become moody and violent. They lose the sense of timing and judgement and see and hear objects. These drugs have dangerous often fatal effects when taken along with other drugs like heroin and when taken in combination with alcohol.


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