Psychotropic drugs cross the blood-brain barrier to affect a person’s brain function; for example, anesthetics and pain medications are different types of psychotropic drugs that doctors commonly prescribe. Some illicit recreational drugs also cross the blood-brain barrier, like cocaine and marijuana. In addition, not all drugs capable of affecting the central nervous system are prescription-only or illegal, like caffeine and alcohol. The danger of taking such drugs varies, and is occasionally highly controversial in some countries. It is possible to fatally overdose on most psychotropic drugs, so care must be taken when consuming them.
Anesthetics and pain control medications eliminate or reduce a person’s ability to feel pain. Most anesthetics also make the user lose consciousness, which is useful for performing surgery without traumatizing a patient. Anesthetics are often highly controlled substances that are not given to anyone but qualified doctors who administer them in-house. On the other hand, pain medications are frequently given to out patients, though some are highly addictive and have a robust black market. Both anesthetics and pain medications have differing levels of strength to be used on patients of different weights or who are experiencing higher levels of pain.
Cocaine, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and marijuana are recreational drugs that are illegal in some jurisdictions. All of these drugs can pass through a person’s blood-brain barrier, which makes them psychotropic drugs. They can give the user a “high” consisting of hallucinations, a feeling of euphoria, and more. Their illegality is generally because of the potential danger and addictiveness of using them, but certain psychotropic drugs like marijuana have not been studied long term to adequately judge their side effects. These drugs were often seen as a status symbol in ancient times, and sometimes still are in modern night clubs.
Some legal psychotropic drugs are caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine is largely unregulated and available to anyone with enough money to purchase a carbonated beverage, coffee, or energy drink. On the other hand, there are usually age restrictions on alcohol, though this varies depending on the country and jurisdiction within that country. Both of these drugs are legal in most circumstances, however, and can cause feelings similar to illegal psychotropic drugs. They can also be overdosed on; for example, alcohol poisoning can lead to brain damage and death in severe cases. Death due to caffeine intoxication is rare but can happen if a person overdoses on caffeine pills.