Introduction to Drugs and Other States of Consciousness

What you’ll learn to do: explain how drugs affect consciousness

Psychadelic image from Mandelbrot Set.

While we all experience altered states of consciousness in the form of sleep on a regular basis, some people use drugs and other substances that result in altered states of consciousness as well. This section will present information relating to the use of various psychoactive drugs and problems associated with such use. You’ll also learn about other altered states of consciousness like hypnosis and meditation.

Watch It

This CrashCourse video gives an excellent overview of these altered states:

You can view the transcript “Altered States: Crash Course Psychology #10” here (opens in new window).

Learning Objectives

  • Describe how substance abuse disorders are diagnosed
  • Explain how depressants impact nervous system activity
  • Identify stimulants and describe how they affect the brain and body
  • Identify opioids and describe how they impact the brain and behavior
  • Describe hallucinogens and how they affect the brain and behavior
  • Compare and contrast between depressants, stimulants, opioids, and hallucinogens
  • Describe hypnosis and meditation


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