People mistakenly associate "naturally-produced" with goodness, and they seem further justified using drugs when they hear that our neurons have receptors for such molecules. That's not very good reasoning. If there were no receptors for drugs, they would have no effect on the brain. As for the assumption that "because it's natural it has to be beneficial", keep in mind that mushroom and snake poisons are not man-made, but you don't see too many people running out to buy those, at least not yet.
Opiates(codeine, morphine, opium and heroin) are derived from the opium poppy. These similar molecules act on cell membrane receptors normally designed for the bodies' endorphins, a group of neuropeptides produced in the brain. The latter act as natural pain-killers in times of severe physical stress, and may be involved in sensations of pleasure. Similarly cannabis(marijuana or hashish), a drug derived from the dried leaves and flowering tops of the plant Cannabis sativa, acts on cannabinoid receptors that normally receive molecules like 2-arachidonly glycerol(2-AG). However, the similarities between plant opiates, cannabinoids and what our brain normally uses does not give us license to use drugs for recreational purposes. Normally-occurring biochemical events from internally synthesized molecules are tied into our loves and desires, to moments of creative bliss and other accomplishments. When we try to recreate these moments with an external-drug, we are trying to replicate rewards of the soul without any ties to actions that actually merit them. Adolescents are sometimes starving for such pleasures, so the temptation to obtain them easily is difficult to resist. But think of drugs as a form of spiritual masturbation, and suddenly they won't seem as sexy. At least regular masturbation is free and relatively harmless. Drugs, however, are not only a waste of money, but they financially support a local and international network of thugs who have no regard for your safety or development.
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