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“Hallucinogens” refer to the class of pharmacological agents that can alter the subjective qualities of thought, perception and emotion in a subject, and result in alternate states of consciousness known as hallucinations (McKim, 2002). Depending upon brain receptors being attacked, they can be broadly categorized as: 1)psychedelics (e.g. LSD, cannabis or marijuana) 2)delireants (e.g. Atropine) and 3)dissociatives (e.g. nitrous oxide). All of these substances basically act as neurotransmitter mimics, and cause a temporary detachment of “self” in the subject concerned, and invoke a “dream-like consciousness” (McKim, 2002). At high levels of dosage, these substances can result in a permanent state of inertia, and danger levels vary depending upon the precise brain neurotransmitters being affected (McKim, 2002).“Opiates” differ from hallucinogens in that they are classified as “psychoactive agents” that act primarily upon the central nervous system and alter brain functions, to bring in temporary changes perception, mood, consciousness and behavior (McKim, 2002). Within psychoactive agents, alcohol and chloroform are examples of sedatives that are used for recreational purposes and have milder impact. Opiates are a sub-category called “narcotic analgesics” or “depressants” (e.g. opium, morphine, heroin, methadone) that produce a quick, intense feeling of pleasure followed by a sense of well-being and a calm drowsiness, leading to sleep. Heroin has the most adverse addictive impact among these drugs, whereas opium and morphine can be used for medicinal purposes also. It should be kept in mind that cocaine doesn’t fall under opiates despite similar effect because opiates refer only to products derived from opium, a white liquid in the poppy plant. Opiates are what are commonly referred to as “narcotics” (Plotnik, 1998).Finally, “Stimulants” are also a class of psychoactive agents, that differ from opiates as well as hallucinogens in that they impact the sympathetic nervous system and the feeling produced is that of euphoria or mental alertness, not detachment or drowsiness. They are also used and abused sometimes to boost endurance. Examples: Cocaine, nicotine, caffeine, amphethetamine. Cocaine or “crack” is derived from coca shrubs grown in South American countries. It produces short spells of euphoria, but an overdose can cause death due to failure of respiratory mechanism. 

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