A psychoactive drug is a chemical substance which, when consumed, can affect the brain and nervous system, resulting in an altered mental state. The potent effects of psychoactive drugs have led some to be used as prescription medicines, while others have become some of the most widely prohibited illicit substances in the world. So what are the effects of drugs on the brain? What are the different types of psychoactive drug, and how do these various chemicals affect behaviour, consciousness, mood, perception, and the functioning of the brain?
Stimulants elevate alertness and moodShow moreShow less
Stimulant drugs affect the brain's internal communication and transmission processes, often targeting the dopamine reward pathway to cause feelings of euphoria.
Cocaine interferes with the brain's signalling processes by blocking the removal of neurotransmitters from synapses. In particular, cocaine binds with transport molecules responsible for the uptake of dopamine, causing dopamine to accumulate within the synapses. Because the presence of dopamine is integral to the brain's reward system, the buildup of dopamine amplifies reward signals, stimulating a feeling of euphoria.
Over time, cocaine can lead to abnormalities in the cortex region of the brain, and is associated with impairments to cognition, motor function, and reaction time. Dependency on cocaine can develop from long-term use and depression is common if usage is stopped.
[P1] Cocaine builds up dopamine levels to give feelings of euphoria.