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Article Summary

Understanding The Various Types Of Drugs

Drugs are classified into three main types namely, depressants, stimulants and hallucinogens. This classification is done by how different drugs affect the central nervous system. However, it should be noted that most drugs fit into one or even more categories. Here is a look at each type and some examples under each.


These are drugs that slow down a person's central nervous system hence making him feel less tense, relaxed and less aware of the events around them. In modest doses, depressants can make a person feel relaxed. There are depressants that cause ecstasy and a sense of well-being and calm. These drugs might be used to reduce stress, anxiety or inhibition. Depressants affect concentration, coordination and judgment since they slow you down. For this reason, it is hazardous to drive or operate machinery when under these drugs.

Depressants can lead to unconsciousness by reducing heart rate and breathing, if administered in larger doses. One's speech might become slurred and his movements uncoordinated and sluggish. Other impacts of larger doses include nausea, vomiting and death, in extreme cases. Depressants increase their effects and danger of overdose, when taken in combination.

Examples of depressants are: alcohol, opiates and opioids, which include heroine (also referred to as 'hammer', 'H', 'gear' and 'smack'), codeine, buprenorphine, methadone and morphine. Another drug under this type is cannabis (also known as 'smoke', 'weed', 'cone', 'dope', 'mull' and 'green'). Cannabis includes hashish, hash oil and marijuana. In stronger concentrations like in resin and hashish, cannabis can act as a hallucinogen on top of being a depressant to the central nervous system. Sleeping pills, ketamine and prescription pain killers such as Oxycontin are also under this drug category. Some solvents and inhalants, which include vapors from glue, chrome paint and petrol, are also in this category.


Unlike the depressants, stimulants are designed to speed up the functioning of the central nervous system. Many people use stimulants on a daily basis from different sources. This includes caffeine, which is found in coffee, cola and tea drinks. This is a mild stimulant. Nicotine, which is found in tobacco, is a stimulant, although many smokers use it to relax. Another stimulant is ephedrine, used in bronchitis, asthma and hay fever medications. Stronger stimulant drugs include cocaine, methamphetamines and amphetamines, and dexamphetamine, which are prescribed to treat narcolepsy and attention-deficit disorder in kids.

Stimulants arouse or speed up the central nervous system of a person and can make users to feel more alert, awake and confident. These drugs increase heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Other physical effects of stimulants include dilated pupils, sleep disturbance, agitation, talkativeness and reduced appetite.

Higher doses of these drugs make the user 'over-stimulated', causing panic, anxiety, headaches, aggression, paranoia, seizures and stomach cramps. They can also lead to heart issues such as arrhythmia. Sustained or prolonged use of stimulants may cause these impacts. Strong stimulants can disguise the impacts of depressant drugs, like alcohol. This increases the likelihood of aggression, and creates an obvious hazard if one is driving.


These drugs are at times called 'mind-expanding' or 'mind-altering' drugs. They distort the way in which the user perceives reality. They can increase one's awareness of touch, sight, hearing, feeling and taste. Objects might take different sizes and shapes, sounds might be heard softer or louder. These drugs include: magic mushrooms, mescaline, ketamine, ecstasy, which produces a combination of stimulant and hallucinogenic effects, and LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide).

The major physical impacts of hallucinogenic drugs are loss of appetite, dilation of pupils, jaw clenching, sweating, talking or laughing, increased activity and at times nausea or stomach cramps. Drug effects include a sense of psychological and emotional euphoria and well-being. Auditory, visual and tactile hallucinations might occur, causing the users to hear or see things that do not really exist. The impacts of hallucinogens are not easily predictable and the user might behave in a manner that appears bizarre or irrational. Psychological effects often are determined by the user's mood as well as the context of use.

Harmful effects of hallucinogens include paranoia, loss of contact with the reality and panic. In intense cases, this can lead to dangerous behavior that might put the user and other people around him at great risk. It is extremely hazardous to driver when under the influence of hallucinogens.

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