What Does Psychoactive Mean?


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The term psychoactive is an adjective which means affecting the mind, behaviour or mental processes. It is typically used of a drug; an in 'psychoactive drugs'.

A synonym for the term psychoactive is the word psychotropic. These are chemical substances which largely act upon the central nervous system. They alter brain functioning which results in temporary alterations in perception, consciousness, mood, and behaviour.

They may be used as recreational drugs deliberately taken to alter one's consciousness; or as entheogens taken for spiritual purposes; and even simply as medication. Many of these psychoactive drugs (in particular the stimulants as well as the depressants) are potentially habit-forming. They can cause chemical dependency which may result in substance abuse. Yet at the same time, others (that is, the psychedelics) may be used to help treat and sometimes even cure such addictions.

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