Things You Should Know About Drugs

Last quarter, I took a psychopharmacology class and found myself disappointed that I hadn’t learned some of the content earlier in life. Even though I don’t do recreational drugs myself, I know quite a few people who do and who could definitely use some of this information to be as safe as possible. I am writing this article to share my knowledge of the world of pharmaceutical and recreational drugs and hopefully spread some helpful information.

Important words to know in this article:

  • Neurons= brain cells
  • Neurotransmitter= a chemical messenger within the brain that enable transmission between neurons, essentially allowing your brain to do its job
  • Mechanism of action= how a drug works in the brain (which receptors it binds to, which enzymes it enhances or inhibits, etc.)
Cocaine and alcohol mix in your stomach to create a new, more potent psychoactive compound called cocaethylene. Cocaethylene has many of the same effects as cocaine, but is four times as strong, making the risk of side effects (including seizures) four times as high.


MDMA destroys your serotonin neurons. Serotonin is widely thought of as the neurotransmitter responsible for emotional regulation. Loss of serotonin neurons at a rapid rate, as seen in MDMA (ecstasy) users, eventually leads to a loss of ability to regulate one’s emotions, resulting in a constantly chaotic and devastating emotional state.

MDMA becomes more toxic when the user is active. Increasing your heart rate when MDMA is in your system causes the drug to move through your system much quicker. That, combined with the increased core temperature and dehydration that accompany physical activity, makes the user more prone to toxic side effects of MDMA (fainting, convulsions, kidney failure, seizures, etc.).

Atypical antipsychotics like Abilify, which are regularly advertised as an effective add-on to an antidepressant, have been found to neither increase nor decrease the effects of the antidepressant. The use of antipsychotics like Abilify in the treatment of depression and anxiety is actually part of a conspiracy by pharmaceutical companies to make more money without having to research or develop new drugs. Pharmaceutical companies took drugs they were already selling, renamed them, and marketed them to a specific population without researching the effects first.

One occasion of binge-drinking alcohol can have more developmental effects on a fetus than regular use of heroin or crack. The whole “crack baby” thing is a myth, invented by anti-drug propaganda in the ‘70s to further discourage drug use. In reality, crack or heroin use has no observed effect on brain development of the fetus even after birth. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which can be attributed to even one binge drinking episode, has severe long-term developmental effects on a fetus’s brain.

Marijuana and opioids (including heroin and pain medication) have the same mechanism of action. Both marijuana and opioids actively inhibit the amount of energy produced in a neuron, which causes sedation, cognitive impairment, and general tranquility because your neurons aren’t as active.

Marijuana erases short-term memory at a faster rate than normal, so the brain doesn’t have a chance to create as many memories when the drug is in the system. No matter how well you’ve convinced yourself that you study better when you’re high, you’re simply not retaining as much information as you would if you were sober. The good news is that marijuana doesn’t actually cause memory loss, so you’re good to smoke after you’re done learning.