Drug laws in Alabama and other states prohibit the possession, use and distribution of many psychoactive drugs. These substances are controlled because they have addictive properties and cause physical or psychological harm, but others that have similar properties like alcohol, nicotine and caffeine are legal. The thing that all of these legal and illegal substances have in common is that they affect the brain.
All psychoactive drugs fall into one or more of four basic categories. Depressants like alcohol and valium calm the brain, reduce anxiety and induce sleep, and they can also provoke anger and aggression. Stimulants, which are sometimes called uppers, arouse the senses and reverse the effects of fatigue. Cocaine and caffeine are stimulants, and marijuana and nicotine are both stimulants and depressants. Opiates like heroin and fentanyl are powerful painkilling drugs that bring on feelings of euphoria and happiness, and LSD, MDMA, PCP and other hallucinogens alter perception and cause the people who use them to see or hear things.
The penalties for drug convictions in Alabama are based on type of controlled substance involved. Possessing or distributing Schedule I controlled substances is punished harshly because these drugs are highly addictive and have no accepted medical uses. Schedule II controlled substances are almost as addictive as Schedule I controlled substances, but they can be used to treat certain medical conditions. Schedule III, IV and V drugs are less addictive and are unlikely to lead to physical or psychological dependence. These drug schedules are based on federal guidelines.
All psychoactive substances affect the brain, but not all of them are illegal. Possessing or distributing banned drugs like cocaine or heroin is punished with lengthy prison sentences, but consuming alcohol, caffeine or nicotine does not break the law. However, using these drugs can sometimes lead to legal problems. Getting behind the wheel after drinking can lead to a drunk driving charge, and possessing opiates like oxycodone or morphine without a valid prescription is a serious drug violation.