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Artist depicts effects of 50+ drugs on the brain through self-portraits

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Bryan Lewis Saunders has been drawing daily self-portraits since 1995 — and one series in particular is equal parts disturbing and fascinating. For his “Drugs” series, the artist took a different drug every day for a few weeks while continuing his commitment to drawing daily self-portraits. The result: drastically dissimilar, and highly unusual, illustrations. 

We don’t condone drug use here at HellaWella, and clearly no one should ever attempt something like this — it’s a miracle Saunders’ experiment didn’t end in hospitalization or worse. On his website, he says it took such a toll on him that he had to spread it out over greater lapses of time.

But for those interested in brain function and psychopharmacology, the self-portraits provide a compelling (albeit very subjective) look into the ways different substances warp the mind.

 

Abilify (after 3 months of use)

Type of drug: Atypical antipsychotic (treats schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression)

 

Abilify/Xanax/Ativan

Type of drug: Antipsychotic (treats schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression)/benzodiazepine (treats anxiety disorders)/high-potency benzodiazepine (treats anxiety, insomnia and acute seizures; also used for sedation)

 

Absinthe

Type of drug: Alcohol

 

Adderall

Type of drug: Amphetamine psychostimulant (treats ADHD and narcolepsy)

 

Ambien

Type of drug: Sedative (treats insomnia)

 

Ativan/Haloperidol

Type of drug: High-potency benzodiazepine (treats anxiety, insomnia and acute seizures; also used for sedation)/typical antipsychotic and antiemetic (treats schizophrenia, behavior problems, agitation and symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome)

 

Buspar

Type of drug: Anxiolytic psychoactive drug (treats generalized anxiety disorder)

 

Butalbital

Type of drug: Barbiturate (treats pain and headache)

 

Cocaine

Type of drug: Stimulant (considered markedly more dangerous than other central nervous systems stimulants, including the entire amphetamine drug class, at high doses, which can cause sudden cardiac death)

 

Cough syrup

Type of drug: Cough-cold medicine 

 

Crystal meth

Type of drug: Neurotoxin and potent psychostimulant

 

Dilaudid

Type of drug: Narcotic analgesic (treats moderate to severe chronic pain)

 

Dilaudid/morphine

Type of drug: Narcotic analgesics (treat moderate to severe chronic pain)

 

G13 marijuana

Type of drug: Extremely potent cannabis 

 

Geodon

Type of drug: Atypical antipsychotic (treats schizophrenia and certain problems caused by bipolar disorder)

 

Hash

Type of drug: Cannabis product

 

Hydrocodone/oxycodone/Xanax

Type of drug: Semi-synthetic opioid (used as a narcotic analgesic and cough medicine)/narcotic analgesic (treats moderate to severe pain)/benzodiazepine (treats anxiety, pain disorder, insomnia and anxiety caused by depression)

 

Klonopin

Type of drug: Benzodiazepine (treats seizures, panic disorder and anxiety)

 

Lortab

Type of drug: A combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone (painkiller)

 

Marijuana (i.e., cannabis)

Type of drug: Psychoactive drug used both medicinally and recreationally

 

Marijuana resin

Type of drug: Marijuana product

 

Morphine IV

Type of drug: Opioid analgesic (treats moderate to severe pain)

 

Nicotine gum

Type of drug: Chewing gum used in nicotine replacement therapy

 

Nitrous oxide (aka laughing gas)

Type of drug: Inhalational anesthetic (used in surgery and dentistry for anesthetic and analgesic effects)

 

Nitrous oxide/Valium

Type of drug: Inhalational anesthetic (used in surgery and dentistry for anesthetic and analgesic effects)/benzodiazepine (treats anxiety, muscle spasms and seizures)

 

PCP

Type of drug: NMDA receptor antagonist/dissociative drug

 

Percocet

Type of drug: Opioid combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen (treats moderate to moderately severe pain)

 

Pruno

Type of drug: Prison wine

 

Psilocybin mushrooms

Type of drug: Psychedelic

 

Risperdal

Type of drug: Atypical antipsychotic (treats schizophrenia and certain problems caused by bipolar disorder)

 

Ritalin

Type of drug: CNS stimulant (treats ADHD and narcolepsy)

 

Salvia divinorum

Type of drug: Psychoactive plant that can induce dissociative effects and hallucinatory experiences

 

Seroquel

Type of drug: Atypical antipsychotic (treats schizophrenia and symptoms of bipolar disorder)

 

Trazodone

Type of drug: Serotonin-reuptake inhibitor (treats depression, and depression with anxiety)

 

Valium

Type of drug: Benzodiazepine, anxiolytic & hypnotic (treats anxiety, muscle spasms and seizures)

 

Valium IV

Type of drug: Benzodiazepine, anxiolytic & hypnotic (treats anxiety, muscle spasms and seizures)

 

Valium IV/albuterol

Type of drug: Benzodiazepine, anxiolytic & hypnotic (treats anxiety, muscle spasms and seizures)/Beta2-adrenergic agonist (treats asthma, bronchitis and similar breathing problems)

 

Xanax

Type of drug: Benzodiazepine (treats anxiety, panic disorder, insomnia and anxiety caused by depression)

 

Zoloft (after two weeks)

Type of drug: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (treats depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder and panic disorder)

 

Zyprexa

Type of drug: Atypical antipsychotic (treats psychotic mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder)

 

H/T: Elite Daily; Photos courtesy of Bryan Lewis Saunders

 

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