Effects affecting thought processes

Effects affecting thought processes

Two primary cognitive, that is, affecting understanding, the effects of cannabis intoxication are well studied. The first is a reduction in the ability of short-term memory, and the second is a sense of slow motion of time.

The short-term memory disorder observed after cannabis use may also occur after a small dose of the drug. Moreover, the degree of deterioration of short-term memory increases rapidly with the complication of memorization tasks. This effect has been examined and is considered on numerous examples, such as the memorization of words or spoken material. The mechanism of action of marijuana on the memory is not defined, but some approaches to this mechanism have been found. The first reason may be that the user is simply not motivated to resurrect recent material. Although this hypothesis inspires confidence, the testimony suggests that the subject of these experiments takes the task as a challenge and quite willingly answers the questions posed. The second effect caused by cannabis is a change in perception or “veil of interference” that blocks or interferes with the perception or sensation of the material. The third hypothesis is that marijuana creates a reduced ability to concentrate on the present subject. Finally, the effects of cannabis can penetrate into the neurochemical processes that operate memory and restorative operations. The specific factor or the sum of factors that influence memory processes remains unknown, but it seems that they somehow take part in the functioning of short-term memory.

An alternative perception of a period of time is the second cognitive effect of cannabis. This, perhaps, best reflects the expression “a few minutes stretch like a few hours.” This effect was noticed both in the course of research and simply in the stories of people using marijuana. However, the violation of the perception of time is not so clearly derived from scientific reports, as from the subjective evidence of those who tried marijuana.

Other cognitive effects of marijuana are also reported. One of them is a decrease in the ability to concentrate and focus, the person becomes more easily distracted. Many smokers report that cannabis causes a “thought race” and a “struggle of ideas” when thoughts “fly into one ear, flying out of the other.” Another frequently reported effect is increased activity. This is especially true for writers, artists, that is, creative people. Some cannabis users describe rare feelings of “unreality” with heightened attention to a situation or event that had not played any role before.

Emotional effects

Emotional effects

Positive emotional changes following the use of cannabis are often a key motivation for smoking marijuana. A variety of mood changes can occur. There is an uncertain relationship between these changes and the specific effect of the drug. Many non-pharmacological factors may accompany the perceived effects of the drug. Chief among these factors is past experience with cannabis use, attitudes toward a drug, expectations from drug use and the situation in which the drug is taken. These factors, working in addition to the factor of the size of the dose of THC, can be assessed in terms of the emotional changes inherent in the drug.

A typical emotional reaction to cannabis is a carefree and relaxed state. These feelings can be described in various ways; such adjectives are often used: euphoric, contented, happy and delighted. Often they describe laughter and talkativeness, the falling of a person into a dreamy state of mind.
It should be emphasized that negative emotional sensations, such as anxiety or dysphoria, are more common than might have been expected. Additionally, there are many physical consequences of consuming. First of all, it is a headache, nausea and muscle contraction; less common suspicion and paranoid thoughts.

It is reported that about a third of marijuana smokers end up experiencing these negative effects; however, they may be passing. The user may experience alternately negative or positive effects. In addition, inexperienced smokers most often report negative effects.

Khimka is another form of marijuana

Khimka is another form of marijuana

There seems to be an infinite number of ways to use and abuse drugs. Sometimes the effect of a drug will be much more pronounced when, for example, it is injected into a vein instead of oral administration. Sometimes the appearance of certain effects and the nature of the effects of the drug will affect the way it is prepared. One of the typical examples of this kind of change that occurs during the preparation of a psychoactive substance is a drug known as AMF or “Khimka.” AMF is marijuana soaked in formaldehyde, which is dried before smoking. This description is first given in clinical literature in 1985 by Ivan Spector, a physician from the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.

In accordance with Spector’s description, which cites as examples of patients who applied for help after smoking, AMP identified serious psychiatric patients (phenomena and disorders. Some of them reported that they “suddenly felt as if a transparent wall had appeared between them and everyone around them “. Among the symptoms associated with intoxication of AMP, called delayed sense of time, memory impairment, disorientation, paranoid delusions, anxiety, shyness, ambiguity of thoughts, difficulties in reproducing reality and shivering. Physiological effects when using Khimki include high blood pressure, tachycardia, psychomotor agitation.

It will be instructive to tell a story about one incident that Spector watched. A 35-year-old woman, let’s call her Mrs D., was examined for three days after smoking Khimka. She felt anxious, constantly twitching, there was abundant salivation and frequent swallowing; her heart pounded so fast. All this followed soon after smoking of AMF. A few hours later, she felt a psychomotor inhibition, a sense of closure in herself, said she could not think clearly and lost all motivation, paranoid thoughts began to come to her mind. Mrs. D. also described hallucinations when walls in her blood appeared to her. Three days later, most of these signs disappeared, with the exception of anxiety and a shiver. She took the remedies for anxiety, and all the consequences were completely gone in three days.

The impact scenario in Mrs. D. was similar to the other evidence used by AMF given in the study, and we can draw two conclusions. The first is that any drug taken can be prepared in different ways, and the effects on the user will change. Secondly, a drug user may be in a situation where the drug being taken will not be what was intended to be taken. Some marijuana users reported that when they gave AMF to friends, the latter, before consuming, thought it was just marijuana.

Social effects

Social effects

There are three main hypotheses about the social consequences of cannabis use and the effects on the human environment that will attract our attention: the role of marijuana in enhancing interpersonal qualities, the effect of cannabis on aggression and cruelty, and the role of using marijuana in what is called a loss of motivation syndrome.

Many young marijuana smokers claim that they use the drug to enhance their social skills, and that the drug allows them to become more competent in various social situations. For complete confirmation of such statements there is not enough information, however, this is confirmed by one study. It turns out that the user is either (or) more relaxed in a certain situation and thus shows less anxiety, or (b) treats his behavior differently under the influence of marijuana. In any case, marijuana does not greatly enhance the competence of a person in various social situations.

A fairly well-established thesis on cannabis use dating back to the 1920s, when newspaper articles appeared in New Orleans, suggests that marijuana provokes a smoker to aggression and cruelty. However, a myriad of conclusions from clinical observations and laboratory studies suggest that marijuana does not cause aggression. When aggressive actions are observed, they are likely to indicate the impact of the conviction and individual characteristics of the smoker. In fact, using cannabis smoking reduces the degree of aggressiveness.

The third, and perhaps most controversial, effect of cannabis use on the social and human environment is a syndrome of loss of motivation. The term was introduced into circulation in the early 1960s to describe the clinically observed “influence of cannabis use on the emergence and development of more passive personality characteristics, unmotivated personalities locked into the inner world.” The list of syndromes includes apathy, hypersensitivity, lack of desire, reduced sense of tasks and goals, difficulty in concentrating and concentrating. Moreover, based on research data, we can conclude that this phenomenon occurs more often in young smokers who use marijuana every day and in large doses.
However, it can be said that the role of cannabis use in spreading these characteristics in a marijuana smoker is not clear. Also, there are discussions about how exactly the syndrome occurs, given that it does not always occur. In addition, anthropological studies of serious smokers of marijuana in other countries have not brought evidence to support the existence of a loss of motivation syndrome. Also, this hypothesis was not supported by laboratory studies on cannabis use by humans. Moreover, survey data do not always reveal differences between marijuana smokers and people who do not use drugs, which is unusual, since marijuana causes a certain set of symptoms to appear. Also, the syndrome of loss of motivation was sometimes observed in young people who did not use marijuana, and is not always observed in drug users every day in large doses. Thus, it can be assumed that the existing personal characteristics and some of the effects of the drug together can influence the emergence and expansion of what has been called the syndrome of loss of motivation.

Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens

Hallucinogens – one of the most curious and, at the same time, the most strange group of drugs. They are of particular interest because of their ability to deeply change the consciousness in a very bizarre way. At the same time, many unclear things are connected with them, because they are extremely diverse and differ in the mechanism of action. Originally called “fiction”, over the years they have undergone a dozen different renames. Some researchers used the term “psychomimetics” because they were thought to mimic the symptoms of functional mental disorders, such as schizophrenia. Currently, they are rarely used for this purpose, because it turned out that despite the curious similarities, the effects of hallucinogen exposure are very different from natural psychoses. During the 60s, advocates of hallucinogens called them “psychedelics.” This term was introduced by one of the first LSD researchers Humphrey Osmond. Osmond defined psychedelics as “mind-expanding,” but whether LSD and other hallucinogens have similar properties in reality is a very controversial issue.

In the end, it became customary to call this group of drugs hallucinogens, but this term is not entirely accurate. He focuses our attention on hallucinations and other changes in perception and, indeed, substances in this category cause sensory disturbances called hallucinogenic. However, it is absolutely certain that this is not their only effect. Hallucinogens greatly affect mood, thought processes, and mental activity. Hallucinogens change almost all aspects of psychological functioning, and the expression “altered consciousness” describes the effect of these drugs best.
An additional complication is the fact that there are more than 90 plant species and even more synthetic drugs that can be used to trigger similar effects. To somehow navigate this complex group of drugs, divide them into 4 subgroups based on their effects and mechanism of action and consider each subgroup separately.

The first and historically most important group are serotonergic hallucinogens. This category includes the synthetic substance lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and related drugs such as mescaline (extracted from the peyote cactus) and psilocybin found in some mushrooms. These substances cause pronounced visual hallucinations, as well as other changes in consciousness. Recent experiments suggest that, despite the different chemical structure, they all affect the transmission of serotonin in the brain.
The second group of hallucinogens includes MDA and MDMA (Ecstasy), related to methyl amphetamines. As the name implies, by chemical structure they are amphetamines (like mescaline), but they cause changes in mood and consciousness and very little, or do not affect the sensory sensations at all. It is believed that, like amphetamine and cocaine, they affect the dopamine and noradrenaline synapses.

Although, obviously, they also affect serotonin.
The third group of hallucinogens is called anticholinergic hallucinogens, less common and include substances such as atropine and scopolamine, contained in mandrake, belen, belladonna and dope. These substances immerse a person in a hypnotic trance, after which a person remembers little or nothing. Substances of this class act on cholinergic synapses of the brain.
And finally, the fourth group includes phencyclidine (PCP or angel dust) and such a compound as ketamine. They are often called dissociative anesthetics because of their ability to cause pain relief during the operation, while the patient does not completely lose consciousness. PCP is thought to act on a receptor that affects the activity of the neurotransmitter glutamine.
Serotonergic hallucinogens: LSD and similar substances

Peyote

Peyote

Perhaps peyote is the most common hallucinogen in the New World. This is rather strange, since the area of ​​peyote growth is limited to a relatively small area in northern Mexico and the southeastern part of Texas. The Aztecs used peyote in their rituals and Sahagun noted that “those who eat or drink it observe visions that are scary or ridiculous.” The Spaniards forbade the Indians to take peyote, seeds of convolvulus and sacred mushrooms for religious purposes, because it seemed to the Spaniards blasphemy. Thus, the use of all these substances remained underground, and until the twentieth century, very little was known about them. Curiously, however, the cult of peyote spread widely in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and became the cult of most Indian tribes in western Mexico and the United States.

Southwestern tribes collected peyote, cutting it off at ground level and leaving the root intact. Then the cactus was cut into pieces and dried to solid “pads”. In this form, they didn’t lose their properties for a long time, and they could be transported over long distances. So they reached the Indians living in the west, reaching Minnesota and Wisconsin. By itself, the ritual was (and remained) practically unchanged, regardless of the particular tribe studied. It lasted all night and passed in a large wigwam, where participants sat around the fire, ate peyote cushions and drank peyote tea. Tobacco was smoked in the form of cigarettes or cigars. The night was spent in pennies, prayers, and then in a discussion of the visions caused by peyote. These ceremonies are still performed by some Indian tribes, like many centuries ago.

Until recently, the use of peyote by Indians did not fall under US drug law, but in 1990 the Supreme Court ruled that states could ban religious use of peyote without violating the existing constitutional right to religious freedom. The controversy continues, but the future of the legal use of hallucinogens is in doubt.

Mechanisms of action of LSD-like substances

Mechanisms of action of LSD-like substances

The mechanisms of action by which LSD and similar substances are capable of producing such impressive effects as visual hallucinations and changes in consciousness in such small doses remain mysterious, but more and more scientists agree that an important role in this process is played by changes in the activity of brain systems associated with serotonin. The first part of this evidence arose from the analysis of the chemical structure of the main hallucinogens. LSD, psilocybin, harmalin are classified according to their chemical structure as indolalkylamines. The same chemical structure has a natural substance serotonin.

The proximity of the chemical structure prompted the assumption that LSD and others like it can imitate serotonin and therefore activate the serotonin receptors of the brain. Currently, this hypothesis has received significant support. For example, it has been proven that LSD and other hallucinogens envelop serotonin receptors and that the force with which this occurs is strictly dependent on the power of the hallucinogen.

One of the problems associated with the above hypothesis is mescaline. The chemical structure of mescaline is very different from all other hallucinogens. By chemical nature, it is more like amphetamines than LSD. For this reason, it was thought that its mechanism of action was different from LSD. However, unlike amphetamines (as well as methyl amphetamines such as MDA), mescaline has a pronounced hallucinogenic effect, virtually identical to LSD. Another evidence in favor of a common mechanism of action for LSD and mescalin appeared in the study of tolerance. Tolerance to all effects of LSD develops very quickly. The same applies to mescaline. In addition, there is cross-tolerance between LSD, mescaline, and other drugs of this group. And, finally, recent data suggest that mescaline (or perhaps one of the mescaline metabolites) also envelop serotonin receptors.

As noted in Chapter 3, serotonin is everywhere in the brain. That is why the effects of LSD-like hallucinogens are so diverse. Serotonin is believed to play an important role in changing mood, which is the reason for the powerful emotional impact of these drugs. However, it is not known which parts of the brain are responsible for the hallucinogenic effect of these drugs.

Pharmacokinetics of LSD-like substances

Pharmacokinetics of LSD-like substances

As noted above, since all the hallucinogens act on serotonin receptors, their effects are very similar. However, these drugs vary greatly in their effectiveness, duration of action, and other pharmacological parameters. The most powerful drug of this class is LSD. For the manifestation of its action enough 25 mg.

The drug sold on the street, packaged in the range of 75-250 mg is either paper soaked with a small amount of LSD solution (“mark”, “napkin”), or gel, or a pill. LSD is quickly absorbed and a noticeable effect occurs within 20-60 minutes after ingestion. The drug is quickly spread throughout the body and, overcoming the blood-brain barrier, enters the brain. The action of LSD lasts from 8 to 12 hours, it is quickly processed and removed from the body. Even with the most powerful equipment, traces of LSD or its metabolites can be detected no later than 72 hours after ingestion. Although the hallucinogens found in the seeds of the bindweed (ergin and isoergin) are completely identical to LSD, their action is much weaker – about 5-10% of the strength of the LSD action.

Psilocybin is usually taken orally: either by eating mushrooms, or in the form of a drink made from the same mushrooms. It is very difficult to determine the dose of this substance, because different types of mushrooms contain different amounts of psilocybin. Usually, 5-10 g of mushrooms containing from 10 to 20 mg of psilocybin are consumed. Thus, the effectiveness of psilocybin is about 1% of the effectiveness of LSD. Duration of action is approximately 4 to 6 hours. Just like all other serotonergic hallucinogens, psilocybin develops tolerance and exhibits cross-tolerance to all members of this group. Mescaline is usually taken in the form of peyote “pads”, as described above. As a rule, from 5 to 20 of these “pads” are eaten, containing about 200-800 mg of mescaline. Mescaline is about 3000 times weaker than LSD, its minimum effective dose is 200 mg. Duration of action from 8 to 12 hours.

Much less is known about other serotonergic hallucinogens, but most of them resemble those described above. The exception is dimethyltryptamine (DMT), which is contained in the bark of the tree Virola and is used in the form of powder or smoked. Its action occurs within a few minutes, but it lasts only about 30 minutes.

Psychotherapeutic use

Psychotherapeutic use

Historically, it was assumed that LSD and others like it should have two uses in psychotherapy, but at present they are not used for these purposes. First, since it was believed that LSD mimics psychosis, by taking LSD, the psychotherapist could learn more about the patient’s subjective sensations. Indeed, hallucinations, unusual sensations, a breakdown in communication with reality are also characteristic of people with schizophrenia and those who receive hallucinogens. But there are cardinal differences.

Hallucinogens usually cause visual hallucinations, while schizophrenia is characterized by hearing. Thus, the subjective sensations of a person suffering from psychosis and using a hallucinogen are not identical. However, the fact that LSD-like compounds can mimic psychosis can be confirmed by the fact that chlorpromazine and other antipsychotics used in the treatment of schizophrenia effectively eliminate the effects of LSD. Thus, hallucinogens can help to better understand the biochemistry of mental disorders.

Secondly, hallucinogens were supposed to be used as an addition to psychotherapy. The idea was that the psychotherapist could find out the most essential thing about the patient if he was taking LSD, moreover, it helped the patient himself to better understand himself, since hallucinogens reduced the resistance of the ego. Many extravagant statements have been made regarding the beneficial effects of LSD on the treatment of mental illness, but gradually the use of LSD in psychotherapy has been markedly reduced. One of the reasons for this was the political environment, the other is that many psychotherapists thought the potential risk of LSD outweighed its benefits. Indeed, it has not been scientifically proven that, as an adjunct to psychotherapy, LSD is more effective than harmless medication prescribed to calm the patient. Some psychotherapists believe that these compounds deserve to be re-evaluated as possible psychotherapeutic agents, but now attention has shifted to the compounds of the MDA group and MDMA.

Effects of serotonergic hallucinogens

Effects of serotonergic hallucinogens

The effects of LSD and the like on the body are similar to amphetamines and cocaine. This is due to the fact that they are sympathomimetic. They cause pupil dilation, increase the pulse and blood pressure, body temperature, cause increased sweating.
It is more difficult to characterize their effect on the psyche. Individual responses to LSD vary greatly. However, common to all serotonergic hallucinogens is a violation of visual perception, although there is some constancy in the types of visual changes. Many of these have been listed in Albert Hofmann’s first use LSD report. Hofmann wrote:

“Kaleidoscopic fantastic images flooded over me, they changed, shimmered in different colors, turned into moving spirals and circles, exploded in color fountains, moved and intermingled with each other in constant motion. Each acoustic perception, such as the sound of a closed door or the noise of a passing car was transformed into a visual one. Each sound produced a very mobile visual image having a form and color. “

The spiral explosions and vortex-like images described by Hofmann are the most typical hallucinations. They are called constant forms because they were observed very often. Another constant form is lattice images resembling a chessboard that appear on a smooth surface. The transformation of sound signals into visuals described by Hofmann is called synesthesia; this is also a frequently mentioned phenomenon. Other visual effects are flashes of light, enhancing the brightness or intensity of color, framing various objects with tails and curls, a sense of movement of stationary objects (when it seems that the wall is breathing or the flowers start to move, grow, wallpaper).

However, trips are more than just a light show. Other perceptions are changing. The mood becomes extremely unstable, the cognitive processes change in a very strange way. Despite the fact that the descriptions of experienced sensations are very different from each other, they still show some similarities. All of them are united by the presence of a very strong affect, although the nature of the emotional state is different. They all include “magical” thinking, and, especially in the last two examples, events are filled with cosmic meaning. If the visions are frightening, then the person can behave like a mental patient, usually referred to as a bad trip. Intuitions, concepts, insights, coming during the trip, seem to be very significant, and later turn out to be banal or false. For example, a person, under the influence of a drug, often thinks that he has telepathic or prophetic abilities, but when checked it turns out that they are absent. Nevertheless, thanks to this, it is easy to understand why in cultures with undeveloped science, hallucinogens were given mystical and religious significance.