Why Do Humans Get ‘High’?

Why Do Humans Get ‘High’?

Altering consciousness has been part of the human-experience since early man ingested his first hallucinogenic plant, or bumped his head hard enough to make himself dizzy. Ultimately the world looked and seemed different afterwards. Why have we humans been drawn to altering our consciousness? Is there an evolutionary advantage?

“By simulating the effects of religious transcendence, they mimic states of mind that played an evolutionarily valuable role in making human cooperation possible – and with it, greater numbers of surviving descendants. This does not mean that humans evolved to take psychedelic drugs. But it does mean that psychedelic drug use can be explained in evolutionary terms as a “hack” that enables transcendent states to be reached quickly.”

#psychology #philosophy #hallucinogens


50 Replies to “Why Do Humans Get ‘High’?”

  1. Tonia Hall you can smell shit from 50 feet away. Doesn’t prove your meant to eat it. And I think that the desire to get high is the same for thinking patterns. Outside perspective. When I get high I don’t feel like yourself. I feel different, giving the illusion off outside perspective. Or vice versa for introspection.

  2. Dean Sanchez​​ I was throwing out a random number. Humans can smell it much farther away, I’m sure. I read something claiming that humans evolved to smell it.

    In 1988, Allyn Howlett, a researcher at the St. Louis University Medical School, discovered a specific receptor for THC in the brain — a type of nerve cell that THC binds to like a molecular key in a lock, causing it to activate. Receptor cells form part of a neuronal network; the brain systems involving dopamine, serotonin and the endorphins are three such networks. When a cell in a network is activated by its chemical key, it responds by doing a variety of things: sending a chemical signal to other cells, switching a gene on or off, or becoming more or less active. Depending on the network involved, this process can trigger cognitive, behavioral or psychological changes. Howlett’s discovery pointed to the existence of a new network in the brain.

    The cannabinoid receptors Howlett found showed up in vast numbers all over the brain (as well as in the immune and reproductive systems) though they were clustered in regions responsible for the mental processes that marijuana is known to alter: the cerebral cortex (the locus of higher-order thought), the hippocampus (memory), the basal ganglia (movement), and the amygdala (emotions). Curiously, the one neurological address where cannabinoid receptors didn’t show up was in the brain stem, which regulates involuntary functions such as circulation and respiration. This might explain the remarkably low toxicity of cannabis and the fact that no one is known to have ever died from an overdose.

    On the assumption that the human brain would not have evolved a special structure for the express purpose of getting itself high on marijuana, researchers hypothesized that the brain must manufacture its own THC-like chemical for some as-yet-unknown purpose. … In 1992, some thirty years after his discovery of THC, Raphael Mechoulam (working with a collaborator, William Devane) found it: the brain’s own endogenous cannabinoid. He named it “anandamide,” from the Sanskrit word for “inner bliss”.


  3. amore personal approach you drink with friends and you know them disinhibited, are they still the same?

    you try recreational drugs for mystical purposes and you try the diving skills of your conscience…the trick is to follow your own gage of moderation after we are not all 6 foot and have rhino skin, first look after the self its a jungle in the mystical land of dreams!

  4. I’m fascinated by the history and socio-psychological ramifications of mind-alteration, but perhaps most interestingly, I’ve never done so myself. I’ve never had alcohol, nor psychadelics, nor anything else that gives a “chemical high,” except sugar and caffeine of course. But does runners-high count? Or the high one gets from feeding off other people’s excitement?

  5. Michael Ireland caffeine and sugar have such beneficial properties. Good for you for staying away from the hard stuff, because God forbid you try anything other than caffeine or sugar, because we all know they are harmless

  6. Does it make a difference?

    Ok moving on…

    This piece is so full of trash it hardly justifies printing.

    The human system has two primary metaphorical sub systems operating: pleasure and pain. They are separate systems with fear (pain) the fast system that is self sustaining and pleasure a slow system that relies largely on ongoing input for sustenance. I could go on but I can’t be bothered right now.

  7. Well, when it comes to sugar, I do try to keep it to a dull roar. While it’s obviously not healthy to overdo sugar, it’s still arguably less acutely unhealthy than some of the harder substances.

    As to caffeine, there are arguably more benefits than detriments to its use, and stopping the use of it is relatively trivial. The same cannot be said for a lot of other substances, haha. And in a healthy person, caffeine doesn’t have long-lasting negative effects on kidneys and liver.

    But anyway, I think Renee might have mistaken my admission for something like a superiority thing, and that’s not the case. I have absolutely no issue with people responsibly using any drug/substance, especially when it comes to introspection and self discovery. I think it’s fascinating, I just haven’t done it.

    And I can’t help but agree a bit with John M. Read … much of the article seems to be trying to make an excuse for using, sorta.

  8. Indeed I am going out on a limb here and say that: other than special circumstances such as escape, humans don’t have an innate desire to get high. Otherwise I can say humans have loads of innate desires, to fast, and to stop being hungry and thirsty, to move, to learn, to express themselves oops did someone say Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? So many innate desires – to live not to die, to feel pleasure and not highs, to rest and recover, so many many things. This headline itself is misleading and frankly wrong. But its great advertising like sugar, its attention grabbing! Clockeye, sleep alters your thought processes as does meditation, so does a great meal or a great experience or a frightening one and all of these are just as well…’the norm’ is a wide range…for really good reasons and purposes.

  9. We came from GOD so we know how it feels to be close to GOD. But reactive behavior will damage our soul if we keep feeding our ego. The only right way to get high is simply connecting our consciousness with the higher dimensions.

  10. What I mean is that, most o the people who gets high, most of the times, they don’t like their lives, they don’t like themselves. I never had the temptation, because I like my way of being, of thinking about the others. I like to think that, every day I do the best for everyone that is around me. So, I like myself! If I took some stuff, probably I’ll be different and I’m not sure that I will be better.

    Did I expressed more clear this time?

  11. Getting high isn’t necessarily in my opinion a way to get away from oneself. I guess it ultimately boils down to what you take. In my preference acid as well as weed have mind opening effects to help you gain a broader perspective. All your life you can be told drugs are bad or something along those lines and wont want to explore or have seen a bad experience and it deters you from doing it. In my eyes it enables your mind to grasp new ideas and concepts. which is why i believe humans enjoy getting high and it is becoming more of a norm

  12. My grandmother once told me if you play with fire you get burned.

    Remember thoughts create feeling, feeling create emotions, emotions create personalities, personalities create character, characters create the person you are today.

    We humans can be fooled very easy by our own feelings and emotions.

    Be careful what you think and what you disire.

    Reactive behaviour can make you fly high to the sky… and after a while your soul is coming back to reality and goes deeper to negativity of your consciousness and you can feel very sad and depressive.

    Not only that?? but the feeling and emotions are going to be much harder next time to control it.

    Old Chinese proverb say: BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR.

  13. But nothing is easy. all lies with a struggle. Individuals put on a smile hiding their true emotional anger or sadness internally . Which I do chemically. Because I refuse to force myself to mentally. I am torn between the 2. I haven’t found the end of the path yet. Still searching. Inside and sober and inebriated

  14. the books of Castaneda,remenber Don Juan Matus…………there we learn that philosopy or state of the mind in another dimensions,the Yaqui ceremony of the magic peyote,……and they are free of the predecible things of realility

  15. People don’t even know until I tell them. I’m in really good shape. I work out for 3 hrs every day. Being that I work the night shift, I’m awake when everyone is sleep. So on they days when I’m off , and everyone is sleep. I have time and peace of mind to search the net looking up endless amounts of information about everything in life religion, conscience, mythology, astrology, science etc… weed can be a beautiful thing if one does not misuse it.

  16. one of the most natural for reaching states of mind and see and feel in with the universe,…..is meditation,being aware of our breathing and flow naturaly.Also mindfullness,and walking and be aware of everything,that is around us,and stop the mind of to much thougts………..mmmmmmm,it can rise up from to the ordinary routines,and Ithink you will reach a kind of special reality,mistic,without excesives use of mind altering subtances.like the peyote,cannabis or others,

  17. Getting high is related to the empty void thats in our soul, that Only God can fill. So thus we get high as a means to elevate to that place. But it is temporary and has physical and psychological effects

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