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Drugs & Health Blog

Word of the Day: Psychoactive Drugs

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
Sara Bellum

Have you ever heard the term ”psychoactive drugs?” Drugs in this category act on the central nervous system and alter its normal, everyday activity, causing changes in mood, awareness, and behavior. Psychoactive drugs disrupt the communication between neurons (brain cells), so abusing them can have serious short- and long-term effects on the brain.

Psychoactive drugs include four groups of drugs: depressants like alcohol and sleeping pills; stimulants like nicotine and ecstasy; opioids like heroin and pain medications; and hallucinogens like LSD.

The term psychoactive drug might make you think of drugs, like LSD, that change your brain and behavior in really extreme ways. LSD is a hallucinogen or “psychedelic” that significantly alters the brain and the user’s perception of reality. It is also an illicit, or illegal, drug.

But not all psychoactive drugs are illegal. Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee and energy drinks, and opioids like Vicodin, OxyContin, or morphine are often prescribed by doctors to relieve pain. Misusing prescribed psychoactive drugs is illegal though, and can be as dangerous as using cocaine or heroin. That's one reason why they come with warning labels telling people not to drive or operate heavy machinery. Drinking too much caffeine is not good for you either (see chart)! or illegal, psychoactive drugs demand caution.

NIDA provides lots of information about the different types of psychoactive drugs:

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


i understandd now lol i think tis is greatt(:

Thank you for sharing this beautiful, really wonderful, continue to go.

interesting stufs yes this is great.

Given the prevalence of easily accessible alcohol and drugs in today’s society it is understandable that parents will worry about their children – especially teenagers. There are no hard and fast rules to tell if a child is involved with drugs but some of the most common signs are:

Changes in Eating Habits
Changes in Sleep Patterns
A New Crowd - New Friends
School / Work Performance Suffering
Mood Swings
Lack of Motivation
Excessive Secretiveness
Needing more money

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I am a teenager, never done drugs, but that describes me to a T... O_e This is why it's sooooo important for parents to understand their teenage kids, so they can tell which are likely doing drugs, and which aren't. ;) BTW, thank you for mentioning there's no "hard and fast rules". Lots of people leave that part out.

Very sad what people will do do themselves for a high ! Messed Up !!

sleepin pills killed my uncle:( three years 2day!!! STUPID PILLS BURN IN MY FIRE PIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

One more issue is that video games are typically serious as the name indicated with the principal focus on learning rather than leisure. Although, there's an entertainment facet to keep your sons or daughters engaged, every single game is generally designed to develop a specific set of skills or area, such as instructional math or technology. Thanks for your posting. [commercial link removed, per guidelines]