Not all psychoactive (or psychotropic) drugs are illegal. There are many drugs on the market that effect brain function. The difference between these and what we know as "street drugs" is that they are designed to enhance normal brain function in order that a person with a medical condition can live a more comfortable and productive life; whereas the drugs sold on the street for entertainment purposes interfere with normal brain function.
It is now possible, with brain imaging, to see the human brain at work and to map the firing of the neurons in the various parts of the brain. Each part of the brain should show activity in the "normal" range during certain given tasks: speaking, sleeping, moving the body, reasoning, reading, dreaming, thinking creatively, etc. A person with a brain disorder (what is commonly know as "mental illness"), epilepsy, or brain damage, will show abnormal firing in one or more areas of their brain. As more and more information is collected, new drugs are formulated to try to restore healthy functioning.
It is also possible with brain imaging to see the effects of illegal drugs and alcohol on brain function. These live images show abnormalities which may or may not become permanent. Unless administered under the guidance of a doctor, there can be grave consequences to experimenting with psychoactive drugs.
Some medicinal psychoactive drugs still being tested in the US are illegal until proven safe for medical use through the rigorous testing of the FDA. This can be frustrating for those who are seeking an effective treatment, but it is designed to protect patients from undesirable and/or dangerous side-effects.
[Please note: I am not a doctor. I am not connected with any pharmaceutical company whatsoever, nor do I have any connection with the FDA.]
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