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By Stanley Einstein (Auth.)

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THE CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM AND DRUGS While it is true that drugs affect a person's entire system, the drugs that we are presently most concerned about primarily affect the central nervous system. Pharmacological classifications are developed in terms of the particular part of the central nervous system that is most affected, or in terms of drug-related behavior that reflects a reaction by a given part of the central nervous system. The cerebral cortex is the framework for our consciousness and houses information necessary for functioning.

This idiosyncratic reaction, seen when the supposedly sedated alcohol drinker becomes abusive and aggressive, is influenced by the individual's personality and environment. Another aspect of barbiturate use is that whereas its major effect, sedation or drowsiness, may last only a few hours, distortions in the person's mood, in fine motor skills, and in judgmental abilities may extend for many hours. When used appropriately, barbiturates can help a person achieve and maintain a more functional level of behavior.

Whereas America appeared to be fairly unconcerned about opiate use during the latter part of the nineteenth century, a number of nations—Britain, Turkey, Persia, and Germany being perhaps the main ones—were significantly involved in the growth or processing of opium. These countries encountered the following dilemma: (1) the feeling that unrestricted opium trade was perhaps immoral, together with (2) an economic interest in continuing such trade, and (3) the assumption that if any of them moved out of the opium business, other nations would either continue or move into it.

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