Changing State of Consciousness | Teen Ink

Changing State of Consciousness

November 6, 2013
By rfcorcoran23 BRONZE, Richland, New York
rfcorcoran23 BRONZE, Richland, New York
1 article 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We cannot choose where we come from but we can choose where we go from there."

William James, first American psychologist, describes consciousness as a “stream that’s constantly changing yet always stays the same.” Consciousness is a matter of your thoughts, actions and feelings associated within your mind. Consciousness is necessary for survival because it detects danger, our own morality, and helps to reduce confusion. When influenced by outside chemicals, an individual’s ability to make safe decisions is impaired because the frontal lobe is unable to properly function. During the past several decades, people of all cultures have been driven to use mind altering substances to change their state of consciousness. However, there is not one single comprehensive theory that psychologists have concluded that explains what motivates people to use and abuse harmful drugs.
The consumption of drugs and alcohol can be influenced by many factors that alter the behavior of an individual. Due to a spike in deaths, admitted addicts to rehabilitation and purchases of illegal substances by minors, psychologists have taken a look into why people decide to become involved in drug consumption. Many people are influenced by environmental factors such as family or relationship conflict, poor coping skills, inadequate parental affection and moral support, poor school performance and also the positive portrayal of drug use through the media. But studies have shown that drugs have been most commonly used by minors under the age of 25 in rural areas. These young adults are deprived from the inability to form relationships and communicate with other individuals around their age. Adolescents living in rural areas find themselves being victims of boredom due to lack of close proximity to one another and lack of social gatherings. This may influence the decision to utilize dealers and when given the opportunity, to “have fun”, take advantage of that. So when the chance for entertainment arises, children jump at the offer and later find themselves addicted to amphetamines after just trying to “have fun.”

Psychoactive substances can be prescribed to patients through doctors to help find relief from mental and physical pain when appropriately used. However, when these substances are used to a point of abuse, the chemical makeup can harm the individual’s mind and body when used improperly. Drugs can impair a person’s judgment which not only places them in danger but also can cause individuals around them to be at risk. Psychologists have taken a look at children with behavioral disorders that take prescribed medication from medical professionals to temporarily regulate the issue. Adolescents in particular are the most likely to turn to psychoactive substances to find relief because of peer pressure, stress from school and puberty which on top of their behavioral disorder is a lot to handle. Studies show that children suffering from depression, ADD, ADHD and other behavioral issues are more likely to turn to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate due to the inability to control their emotions and actions.
People of America live in a complex society in which our values and morals are less defined and less reinforced. Authoritative figures create high expectations for children and place pressure on them to be the best of the best. Teenagers find themselves under an extreme amount of stress due to these high expectations and overload which in turn leads them to turn to drugs to release stress and anxiety. Stress seems to build up until they reach the point in which they can no longer meet life’s demands and they emotionally and mentally shut down. Due to this, they lack coping skills and how to deal with their stress and emotions. Instead of turning to drugs, there are many techniques and activities individuals can involve themselves in to recreate natural stimulation while also relieving the built up pressure. Some alternative choices could be meditation, muscle relaxation, music, writing, concerts, exercise or even thrilling activities like bungee jumping. Whatever activity may be their preference it can help take their minds off of the stress and release endorphins that make them feel better. People take drugs to release these neurotransmitters, serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, which make them feel good but eventually realize that it leads to addiction and severe health side effects.
Adolescents, as well as adults, find themselves consuming poisonous chemicals, drugs, which end up killing brain activity after multiple times of usage and the addiction develops leaving victims suffering with long lasting side effects and even death. Studies show that the motivation to consume psychoactive substances can also be hereditary from parent to offspring. If a parent is a severe alcoholic, these children can inherit their parent’s’ temperament and compulsive personalities which can cause the child to be more susceptible to becoming an addict. It has been shown that the child of an addict or alcoholic can be lacking a specific brain wave called the “P300” which correlates with the deficit of perception and attention. This, in later years, can cause the child to make self-destructive decisions.

Lecturing potential addicts, adolescents, and even adults about the dangers of drugs and alcohol is not an efficient way to develop results. As a high achieving adolescent, I feel that lecturing can help some people but it simply does not get the message across. Teenagers are very rebellious and don’t respond well to being told not to do something; this may just cause them to do it anyway. First-hand accounts as well as stories of people who threw their lives away are very beneficial along with viewing mug shots of drug abusers and the toll the poison can do to your body. This sickens and scares people out of throwing their lives away. Also, many students struggle with drug abuse but have no idea how to reach out for help and quit; in fear of consequences. I believe schools and communities should create relief programs or at least generate a group of adults who can help these teenagers get clean and get their lives back on track. By implementing these strategies in schools and educating the student population on the dangers of drugs and alcohol, I predict drug users would reach out for assistance and the use of mind altering substances would decrease at least slightly.


Engs, Ruth C. "Stress and Ways to Reduce Stress and Anxiety without Drugs." Stress and Ways to Reduce Stress and Anxiety without Drugs. Tichenor Publication Company, 1996. Web. 05 Nov. 2013. <>.

Huffman, Karen. Psychology In Action. Seventh ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2004. Print.

Sheldon, Johnathan. "CHAPTER 3: MOTIVATIONS FOR DRUG USE." CHAPTER 3: MOTIVATIONS FOR DRUG USE. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. <>.

"The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology." The Brain—Lesson 4—Drug Abuse and Addiction (Page 1 of 2). National Institute on Drug Abuse, n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. <>.

The author's comments:
I am currently enrolled in a Psychology course in school and I was given the topic of what motivates people to use and abuse drugs. I became passionate about the subject and researched quite a lot of information surrounding the idea.

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