High

Last Updated: June 12, 2018

Definition - What does High mean?

A high refers to an intense, euphoric feeling or state that occurs by experimental and/or repetitive use of psychoactive drugs. The brain releases a natural chemical called dopamine in response to a triggered stimulus that generates pleasure or a reward. People often use drugs to achieve a high because of the excess amount of dopamine secretion connected to a drug(s) of choice. The neurochemical effects from perpetual use tricks the brain into decreasing or ceasing normal dopamine production altogether, requiring the user to continue more and more frequent consumption of drugs.

WorkplaceTesting explains High

Recreational use of alcohol and/or drugs is often the starting point that individuals experience their first high. Studies report that people who consume alcohol and/or engage in substance use at an early age are likely to develop lifelong addictions. The primary reason is that the prefrontal cortex has not reached full development during a crucial transitional stage between the ages of ten and nineteen. This area of the brain is largely responsible for cognitive processes such as assessing situations, making decisions, and responding to perceived sensory rewards.

Repeat use can lead to tolerance, dependence, and eventual addiction, of any drug to sustain a high, but this can compromise long-term general health. Many substances are classified as gateway drugs including alcohol, marijuana, nicotine, and prescription medications. Individuals who use these gateway drugs consistently are prime candidates for trying harder and more dangerous drugs in the future.

Legal highs is a controversial topic that is gaining momentum and popularity concerning artificial drugs designed to mimic the effects of natural drugs. These synthetic substances (that have not yet been ruled illegal by governing bodies) can generate highs resembling hallucinogens (lysergic acid diethylamide; LSD), sedatives (marijuana), and stimulants (amphetamines; cocaine). Employers are obligated to monitor for signs and/or symptoms of legal highs such as, anxiety, impaired cognition, paranoia, and psychosis.

This definition was written in the context of Drug Testing
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