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Psychoactive drug

A psychoactive drug or psychotropic substance is a chemical substance that acts primarily upon the central nervous system where it alters brain function, resulting in temporary changes in perception, mood, consciousness and behavior.

These drugs may be used recreationally to purposefully alter one's consciousness (such as coffee, alcohol or cannabis), as entheogens for spiritual purposes (such as the mescaline-containing peyote cactus or psilocybin-containing mushrooms), and also as medication (such as the use of narcotics in controlling pain, stimulants to treat narcolepsy and attention disorders, as well as anti-depressants and anti-psychotics for treating neurological and psychiatric illnesses).

Many of these substances (especially the stimulants and depressants) can be habit-forming, causing chemical dependency and may lead to substance abuse.

Conversely, others (namely the psychedelics) can, in certain circumstances, help to treat and even cure such addictions.

Note:   The above text is excerpted from the Wikipedia article "Psychoactive drug", which has been released under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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November 25, 2015

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