Physical suppressions

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Physical suppressions can be defined as any effect which lessens or dulls a facet of one's physical body.

This page lists and describes the various physical suppressions which can occur under the influence of certain psychoactive compounds such as psychedelics.

Appetite suppression

Main article: Appetite suppression

Appetite suppression can be described as a decreased sensation of appetite and a reduction in food consumption. When experiencing this effect, one's desire or craving for food is partially to completely suppressed. Depending on the intensity, this can result in complete disinterest, disgust, and physical discomfort (such as Nausea) concerning food, sometimes resulting in a person going days without eating. In cases of severe appetite suppression, it is often easier for one to drink beverages, such as protein shakes, in order to receive the nutrition needed to function. If substances which induce this effect are used for prolonged periods of time weight loss often occurs as a result.

Appetite suppression is a physical side effect of many drugs including stimulants (such as amphetamine, methylphenidate, nicotine, caffeine, cocaine, and modafinil), psychedelics, opioids, and many common selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Cough suppression

Main article: Cough suppression

Cough suppression is a common effect which can be described as a decrease in the desire to cough. This can be a positive effect which either suppresses a pre-existing cough or allows an individual to inhale large amounts of smoke without having the desire to cough. This effect commonly can occur on DXM, opioids such as codeine, and anticholinergics such as promethazine.

Perception of decreased weight

Perception of bodily lightness can be described as feelings of the body becoming extremely light and easy to move. This indirectly encourages stimulation, resulting in feelings of increased energy and a general sense of bounciness as the body becomes weightless and therefore effortless to move.

Motor control loss

Main article: Motor control loss

Motor control loss can be defined as a suppression of the process by which humans and other animals organize and execute their physical actions. Fundamentally, it is the integration of sensory information (both about the world and the current state of the body) to determine the appropriate set of muscle forces and joint activations to generate some desired movement or action. This process requires cooperative interaction between the central nervous system and the musculoskeletal system, and is thus the result of a combination of information processing, coordination, mechanics, physics, and cognition. Successful motor control is crucial to interacting with the world; it not only determines action capabilities, but regulates balance and stability as well.

In terms of hallucinogenic drugs, although in certain contexts these substances can actually enhance motor control through the component known as increased bodily control, it's worth noting that more often than not they simply decrease it.

The experience of motor control loss ranges between subtle and all-encompassing in its effects as at lower levels it simply results in a general sense of difficulty when performing physical tasks involving dexterity, walking, and balance. At higher levels, however, this component moves beyond subtle in its effects and becomes capable of completely disabling one's ability to use any level of fine or gross motor control. This results in catatonic states and the inability to perform any task beyond lying or sitting down regardless of the person's current cognitive capabilities.

Nausea suppression

Main article: Nausea suppression

Nausea suppression can be described as a physical effect which induces the mitigation of nausea and stomach cramps as a direct result of ingesting specific psychoactive substances.

Pain relief

Main article: Pain relief

Pain relief can be described as an effect which suppresses negative sensations such as aches and pains. This can be done either by blocking the painful sensation from one's conscious faculties or by covering the sensation over with feelings of physical and cognitive euphoria.

Common examples of drugs which induce this effect include alcohol, opioids such as heroin, codeine or morphine and NMDA receptor antagonists such as ketamine and MXE.

Respiratory depression

Respiratory depression is a common physical side effect of many central nervous system depressants such as opioids, GHB, benzodiazepines (in combination with other depressants) and alcohol. This effect is manifested as a reduced urge to breathe and can cause a "sighing" pattern of breathing which can be described as deep breaths separated by abnormally long pauses. Sedation increases along with drug-induced respiratory depression. Breathing is controlled in the brain by the medulla oblongata, and when the activity of it is suppressed by drugs it decreases the ability to ventilate.[1]

This effect can be potentially life-threatening when depressants are taken in large doses or when combined with one another. In an overdose situation, an individual may cease breathing entirely (go into respiratory arrest) which is rapidly fatal without treatment.

Substance induced respiratory depression can be broken down into 4 separate levels of intensity which progressively intensify proportional to dosage:

  1. Minimal respiratory depression: Minimal respiratory depression occurs on low doses of depressants. This effect is unnoticeable and is accompanied by mild sedation.
  2. Moderate respiratory depression: As the dose increases, feelings of sedation intensify from moderate to high levels. One becomes aware of the sensation that the breath is slowed down mildly to moderately or that one is taking less breaths per minute than usual. This level of respiratory depression is not uncomfortable and does not result in any shortness, struggling, or impairment of breath.
  3. Severe respiratory depression: Severe respiratory depression is impairing and occurs at dangerously high doses of depressants. At this level, a person's breathing rate becomes noticeably slowed down significantly which results in the feeling that one is not adequately moving air in and out of the body. Severe respiratory depression induces a powerful and overwhelming focus point of attention on one's breathing rate. In terms of how this feels physically, it can be described as the feeling that you are breathing abnormally, are short of breath, cannot breathe in enough air, and/or are forced to breathe manually in a conscious effort to feel that you are taking in enough air. Extreme sedation is present and if sleep occurs one may potentially wake up struggling and gasping for air. In cases of GHB overdoses, many reportedly experience an abnormal pattern of breathing characterized by progressively deeper and sometimes faster breathing, followed by a gradual decrease that results in a temporary stop in breathing called an apnea. Confusion and anxiety often occur at this level of heightened awareness, increasing the strong sensation that one's breathing will stop completely due to sleep or a lack of attention.
  4. Respiratory failure: At this point, a person's oxygen and carbon dioxide levels become dangerously impaired. The person goes into a semi-conscious state, loses consciousness completely, slips into a coma, and/or stops breathing completely (respiratory arrest). The skin, fingernails, or lips may have a blue-ish color to them. This level of respiratory failure can be fatal without immediate medical attention.[2] Opioids, in overdose or combined with other depressants, are notorious for such fatalities.


To prevent death, it is recommended to contact emergency medical services immediately in case of severe respiratory depression. If caused by an opioid overdose, an opioid antagonist, such as naloxone, should be administered. Many harm reduction organizations provide naloxone to users for free or it can be bought at pharmacies (including Walgreens and CVS in the U.S.). Naloxone will rapidly reverse the respiratory depression unless complicated by other depressants. For other drug-induced respiratory depression, hospitalization and the assistance of a mechanical breathing machine may be necessary.


Main article: Sedation

Sedation can be defined as the experience of decreased agitation, sensory input, and alertness which occurs under the influence of certain drugs. Depending on the level of intensity, it results in feelings of general relaxation and a loss of energy. This effect differs itself from sleepiness outright for its physical over mental effect.

In terms of response to sensory input, sedation can broken down into four separate levels which are defined below:

  1. Minimal sedation - At this level, one will respond normally to verbal/tactile stimuli despite feeling a little sedated.
  2. Moderate sedation - At this level, one will respond to verbal/tactile stimulation only if it is particularly prominent or above usual noise levels.
  3. Deep sedation - At this level, one will respond only to repeated or painful stimulation.
  4. General anesthesia - At this level, one is unarousable even with repeated painful stimulus.

Seizure suppression

Main article: Seizure suppression

Seizure suppression is an effect caused by drugs known as anticonvulsants. These drugs prevent or reduce the severity and frequency of seizures in various types of epilepsy. The different types of anticonvulsants may act on different receptors in the brain and have different modes of action.

Two mechanisms that appear to be important in anticonvulsants are an enhancement of GABA action and inhibition of sodium channel activity. Other mechanisms are the inhibition of calcium channels and glutamate receptors.

Tactile suppression

Main article: Tactile suppression

Tactile suppression can be described as a decrease in one's ability to feel their sense of touch in a manner which can result a general numbness across the body. At higher levels, this can eventually increase to the point where physical sensations have been completely blocked and the body is fully anesthetized.

Tactile suppression is often accompanied by other coinciding effects such as pain relief and physical euphoria. It is most commonly induced under the influence of moderate dosages of dissociative compounds, such as ketamine, PCP, and DXM. However, it can also occur under the influence of opioids and certain GABAergic depressants.

Orgasm suppression

Main article: Orgasm suppression

Orgasm suppression (formally known as anorgasmia) can be described as a difficulty or complete inability to achieve orgasm despite adequate stimulation.[3]

This effect commonly occurs on opioids and dissociatives which have been reported to decrease one's ability to feel sexual pleasure, which may be attributed to their tactile suppressing effects or through some other biological mechanism.[citation needed] It is also a well-known side effect of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).[4]

It may also be a result of the effect known as difficulty urinating which can occur on certain stimulants and entactogens. This effect has been reported to occur alongside a decrease the strength of one's kegel muscles, which may account for the inability to achieve ejaculation and orgasm within males.

See also


  1. Opioids and the control of respiration |
  2. What Is Respiratory Failure? |
  3. Brindley, G. S., & Gillan, P. A. T. R. I. C. I. A. (1982). Men and women who do not have orgasms. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 140(4), 351-356.
  4. Ashton, A. K., Hamer, R., & Rosen, R. C. (1997). Serotonin reuptake inhibitor-induced sexual dysfunction and its treatment: a large-scale retrospective study of 596 psychiatric outpatients. Journal of sex & marital therapy, 23(3), 165-175.