Psychoactive Drugs and Their Effects on the Brain

Psychoactive Drugs and Their Effects on the Brain

Please choose one of the cases to review.

Your roommate Gretchen has had chronic pain issues since she broke her back in a car accident about a year ago. You know that she finished her prescription pain killers at least three months ago, but you’re suspicious she’s been taking something else. Quite frequently you find Gretchen passed out in her room, and when she is awake, she doesn’t seem to care about much. She stopped going to class and says her pain is way better than it was a few months ago. You got really worried last week when you found a syringe laying on the bathroom floor and then found out from your landlord that Gretchen never paid her share of the rent. What drug is Gretchen on?

Choose at least 4 of the following questions to discuss:

1. What drug has the individual in this case been using? What led you to believe this?

2. What are the subjective effects of the drug (i.e., what has a person reported feeling after using the drug)?

3. What receptors, transporters, or neurotransmitters could be involved? How does the drug affect these receptors, transporters, or neurotransmitters?

4. Provide at least one relevant website concerning the drug in question.

5. Is this drug addictive? What are the consequences of continued use of this drug?

6. Putting yourself in the role of a professional counselor or biological psychologist, what advice do you have for concerned family or friends of someone using this drug?

Mini Cases in Psychoactive Drugs and Their Effects on the Brain  by Darlene Mitrano

Case copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Originallypublished September 2, 2011.

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