Perhaps the most common method used to achieve an altered state of consciousness is drug use. The use of drugs is both a historical and contemporary phenomenon. Archaeologists have found traces of cocaine in the mummified bodies of ancient Egypt.
Some people claim that one of the purposes of drug use is to gain a better understanding of the very concept of consciousness. And most addicts say they use drugs to “get high. The desire to “get high” is the desire to reach a modified state of consciousness, moving from a level of consciousness that can induce negative emotions to another level where the individual no longer feels “bad.
The idea that drugs are a leak rings true when one considers that many mind and mood altering substances create an “escape valve” for moving from one state of consciousness to another. That said, not all drugs have an impact on consciousness. In fact, drugs are drugs.
I don’t remember reaching an altered state of consciousness the last time I took an aspirin or an antibiotic. Drugs whose main effect is to alter consciousness are referred to as “psychoactive substances”. The most common are LSD, Phencyclidine (PCP), marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, barbiturates, ecstasy and alcohol. While many people consider drug use a laudable practice when it is done for the purpose of expanding consciousness,
I must caution you, as a health care professional, about the multiple negative effects of substance use and abuse. Dependence, brain damage, mental illness, psychological distress and legal and social problems are all common consequences of drug use. Therefore, I strongly discourage this practice and recommend that you seek other ways to achieve a high state of consciousness.