Being a curious human being, one might seem to want or experience another state of consciousness. We all know that this can be done by children through spinning, sliding, and swinging, all as form of play. It is in a person’s instinct to have the urge to alter one’s consciousness, much like quenching one’s thirst, hunger, and sexual desires. Today, so many people experiment with mind-altering substances or psychoactive medications, which are chemical substances that basically acts on a person’s central nervous system and alters the brains’ functions. The use of these drugs cause short-term changes in mood, perception, behavior, and consciousness.
These medications are divided into five types that correspond to five different uses of the drug. Psychoactive medication includes the use of general anesthetics. Now this is a class of psychoactive medication that is used on patients who need help in minimizing pain and other hurtful sensations. Most of these anesthetics cause the patient to become unconsciousness, thereby allowing doctors to proceed with surgery or other medical procedures without inflicting physical pain or causing emotional trauma. Another type of this class of medication comes in the form of painkillers. Since psychoactive medication are often prescribed to manage pain, certain neurochemicals can be chemically influenced to manage or reduce a patient’s uncomfortable pain. This class also includes narcotics like codeine and morphine, and also aspirin and paracetamol. Psychiatric medications are for the treatment of mental health problems, specifically mental and emotional disorders. Medications for psychiatric treatment have six classifications, namely: antidepressants (treatment for depression, anxiety, dysthymia, eating disorders, etc.); stimulants (used to treat ADD, narcolepsy and for suppression of appetite); anti psychotics (for the treatment of psychosis such as schizophrenia and mania); mood stabilizers (for treating bipolar disorders and shizoaffective disorder); anxiolytics (for anxiety disorder treatments); and depressants (used for hypnotics, sedatives, and anesthetics).
Looking at another approach for the use of these psychoactive medication would be through the use of recreational drugs. Since this particular kind of medication can alter a person’s mood and perception, some can be abused, including those with accepted use in medicine and psychiatry. Frequently used drugs for recreation (or more appropriately, used illegally) include stimulants, hallucinogens, hypnotics, and analgesics. All these can elevate sensations transmitted via a person’s central nervous system. These drugs are abused for their euphoric and performance-enhancing effects. People who abuse these drugs experience perceptual changes, cognitive distortions, and inebriation. Examples of such commonly abused mind-altering products include caffeine, alcohol, LSD, cocaine, and heroine.
Another reason for the use of these medication involves the conduct of certain rituals and spiritual activities. Specified psychoactives, mainly hallucinogens, have been used for religious purposes since time immemorial. Native Americans have used peyote, a mescaline-rich cacti, as a symbolic and material object for religious ceremonies. Another substance used for ritual purposes is the muscimol-containing amanita mushroom, which was widely used by prehistoric tribes in Europe. Various other hallucinogens like jimsonweed, psilocybin mushrooms, and cannabis have also been used in different religious ceremonies for ages. Within the period of 1960-1970, new religious movements have began the use of LSD and other hallucinogens as sacraments. Of course, legality is always on the surface, and that the use of the hallucinogens for religious activities should be strictly regulated.