Effects of Drugs

1. Stimulant Effects

Other stimulant drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamines have a greater impact on the release of excitatory neurotransmitters and thus produce a higher level of wakefulness and a more radically altered mood. That is why these stimulant drugs are sometimes known as "speed".

2. Depressant Effects

Depressant drugs, like alcohol and heroin, work in much the same way on mood and personality but activate inhibitory chemical messengers. However, the repeated use of such drugs over an extended period of time can cause the body to adjust the amount of naturally occurring inhibitory chemicals it produces. This leads to the phenomena of tolerance. More and more of the drug has to be taken in order to get the desired effect. In building tolerance to the effects of a drug, the user may be taking the first steps on the road to physical drug dependence.

3. Hallucinogenic Effects

Hallucinogenic drugs, like LSD and certain 'magic' mushrooms, affect those areas of the brain which control sensory perception and thought patterns. They do this by altering the way in which the messages are received and interpreted. The change in mood or personality brought about by hallucinogenic drugs is more likely to be influenced by the set and setting of the drug use than the purely pharmacological action of the drugs themselves within the central nervous system. 

4. Dual Action Drugs

The arrival of a new range of drugs which seem to have a dual action has further complicated the picture. These are the stimulant psychedelics, of which ecstasy is the most well known. 

Ecstasy, or methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA) to give it its scientific name, belongs to a family of synthetic compounds related to the amphetamines. Because of this family link, ecstasy has stimulant properties like amphetamine, but it also has certain effects in common with LSD. It works on the brain in much the same way as LSD by the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin which has been reported by users as making them feel happier and increasing their feelings of empathy for others.