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SENSATION AND PERCEPTION AND EFFECTS OF DRUGS Every behavior in which an organism engages involves information from the primary senses, such as vision, hearing (audition), and touch. A number of drugs of abuse alter sensory information. Mind-altering drugs can also influence perception of time, thinking, behavior, and mood. Often abusers of these drugs experience severe depression, anxiety, paranoia, confusion, and terror.

Naturally occurring drugs, such as Mescaline from the Peyote cactus, increase awareness of visual and auditory sensations and also produce visual illusions and Hallucinations. The Psilocybin mushroom (Mexican or Magic mush room) produces similar effects. Because of these sensory changes, mescaline and psilocybin have been used since pre-Columbian times in religious ceremonies by the peoples of Mexico and the American southwest.

Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), an artificially-produced drug which was first synthesized in the late 1930s by the Swiss chemist Albert Hoffmann, has become well known for producing intense and colorful visual sensations. People also report changes in sensory behavior with drugs that are related to LSD (such as DMT, DOM, and MDMA, also known as "ecstasy" or the "love drug''). DMT is a short-acting (cycle takes less than one hour) crystalline powder that produces visual hallucinations. DOM, also known as STP, is more than 50 times as potent as mescaline. MDMA produces "out-of-body" sensations and acts as a stimulant. Phencyclidine (PCP) is another synthesized drug that is sometimes added to the list of drugs that alter sensory behavior; however, its sensory effects are limited to numbness in the hands and feet. Ketamine, also known as Special K, is a veterinary medicine that is chemically similar to PCP; its effects range from delirium to inability to move.

The active constituent of marijuana, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), also produces alterations in sensory behavior; however hallucinations—such as those produced by mescaline or LSD—are less common with THC, although there is an increased risk of psychotic symptoms among users with a family or personal history of psychosis. Cocaine and Amphetamine sometimes produce hallucinations and other sensory distortions, but only when they are taken for long periods of time.

Various names are used to describe drugs that alter sensory behavior. One term is psychedelic, which refers to mind-expansion or to experiencing events that go beyond normal boundaries; this word was coined in 1956 by Humphrey Osmond, a British psychiatrist. Another term is psychotomimetic, which refer to the similarities of hallucinations that occur in psychotic disorders, such as Schizophrenia, and those produced by mescaline and LSD. The term hallucinogenic is slightly misleading, since not all drugs that alter sensory behavior produce hallucinations.

Drug Addiction

Drug Addiction

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