Use & The Nervous System

Types of Use:

  1. Inhalation: usually burning drugs and inhaling the vapors or smoke into the lungs.  E.g. tobacco, joints, bongs, chasing the dragon, poppers, glue and solvents.  The user gets the quickest high (5 to 8 seconds), but repeated use can lead to respiratory diseases such as emphysema.
  2. Injection: done intravenously (vein), intramuscularly (muscle) or subcutaneously (under the skin) with an IV needle.  One or multiple drugs can enter the blood and body in about 15 seconds.  Many risks of infections from using unclean needles, hitting the same spot, abscesses and vein collapse. As the effects are irreversible the dosage should be known.
  3. Absorption: drug absorbed through skin or mucous membranes such as eyes, tongue (sublingual), nose, anus, skin via patches, suppositories, creams, chewing tobacco and alcohol, etc.  With a slow release time of 3 to 5 minutes, the user runs the risk of irritating and permanently damaging membranes (e.g. septum deterioration from excessive cocaine snorting).
  4. Oral/Digestion: pills, hash brownies, pot cookies, electric jello, liquid medicines or caffeine make their way through the gastrointestinal tract to be metabolized by the liver.  With a longer release time of 5 to 30 minutes, the effects can be reduced by inducing vomiting.  Some downsides are the effects are not immediate, uneven over time and depend on the contents of your stomach.
  • Instrumental – licit: is the use of a legally sanctioned drug for a socially approved goal, such as prescribed muscle relaxants for pain relief.
  • Instrumental – illicit: is the use of a illegally sanctioned drug for the sole purpose of feeling their effects, or getting high.  E.g. taking coke to stay awake and cram for a test the night before.
  • Recreational – licit: use of a legally sanctioned drug to benefit from their effects or the high produced, e.g. having a drink to relax after work.
  • Recreational – illicit: use of an illegally sanctioned drug for the sole purpose of getting high, e.g. taking LSD to trip out.
  • Misuse: using any drug (licit or illicit) inappropriately.  Self-medicating on pain medication – more is better.
  • Abuse: using any drug (licit or illicit) where the effects create physical/emotional/mental or social impairment.  Using crystal and ending up homeless, where homelessness was not initially part of the plan.

Nervous System:

  1. Central Nervous System: (CNS) comprises the brain and spinal chord
  2. Somatic Peripheral Nervous System: deals with voluntary muscle control
  3. Autonomic nervous System: deals with such things as breathing and the pumping of the heart. This is divided into the Sympathetic and ParaSympathetic Systems

Neurotransmitters are chemical substances that relay message from one portion of the brain to another via synapses in the neurons. There are six NTs:

NT Similar drug Used for Drug Group
Dopamine Cocaine pleasure All drugs
Acetycholine Nicotine


Caffeine alertness; the ‘fight or flight’ response stimulants
GABA, Alcohol brain’s valium that slows down brain activity Alcohol, Barbituates, Benzos
Serotonin Prozac controls mood and aggression Hallucinogens, E
Endorphines morphine brain’s pacifier, controls pain, enhances pleasure Opiates
Anandamide the forgetting NT? Cannabis
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