Psychedelic, Psychoactive, and Addictive Drugs and States of Consciousness

Ralph Metzner

in Mind-Altering Drugs

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780195165319
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199894055 | DOI:
Psychedelic, Psychoactive, and Addictive Drugs and States of Consciousness

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This chapter examines the states of consciousness induced by hallucinogens or psychedelic drugs in the framework of a general model of altered states of consciousness (ASCs). According to the general model of ASCs, the content of a state of consciousness is a function of the internal set and external setting, regardless of the catalyst or trigger, which might be a drug, hypnotic induction, shock, rhythmic sounds, music, and so forth. Altered states of consciousness, whether induced by drugs or other means, differ energetically on the dimensions of (a) arousal versus sedation, (b) pleasure versus pain, and (c) expansion versus contraction. It is argued that the classical hallucinogenic or psychedelic drugs are consciousness-expanding and therefore opposite in effect to drugs such as the opiates, alcohol, cocaine, and amphetamines, all of which can lead to addicted, fixated, contracted states of consciousness. Drugs, such as the stimulants and depressants in moderate dosages, which affect primarily the dimensions of arousal and pleasure—pain, without significant expansion of consciousness, are referred to as psychoactive (or “mood regulating”). The implications for applications in psychotherapy are also discussed.

Keywords: hallucinogens; psychedelic drugs; ASCs; psychoactive drugs

Chapter.  9468 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics

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