Types of Drugs

A substance is a “drug” whenever its use is intended to bring about a change in some existing process or state – psychological, physiological or biochemical. The intended modification can be directed toward changes in medical, behavioural or perceptual states and for either therapeutic or recreational purposes.

There are many ways to categorize the drugs we use. One of the most common ways to categorize drugs is by their effect on the Central Nervous System. This is where the terms “Uppers” (Stimulants) “Downers” (Depressants) “All-Arounders” (Mixed Effect Drugs) and “Psychedelics” (Hallucinogens) come from.


Depressants are drugs that cause the central nervous system to become slow down.

Sedative Hypnotics/Tranquilizers/Anxiolytics:
• Benzodiazepines: used to treat anxiety, insomnia, seizures, alcohol withdrawal. Examples include Valium, Ativan, Xanax, Rohypnol. A.k.a. Benzo’s, Bennies, The Pams, Sleepers.
• Barbiturates: used for same purpose as Benzodiazepines, not used often anymore. A.k.a. Barbs. Examples include Seconal, Nembutal, Amytal

Analgesics/Pain Killers:
• Opioids/Opiates: used to treat pain. Examples include Codeine, Morphine, Methadone, Fentanyl (usually in patch form), Heroin (a.k.a. Dope, H, Horse, Smack), Hydromorphone (a.k.a. Dilaudid), Oxycodone (a.k.a. Oxycontin, Oxy’s), Percocet (a.k.a. Percs), Demerol
• Often referred to as “huffing” or “sniffing”. Examples include glue, correction fluid, lighter fluid, nail polish remover, paint remover, ether, chloroform, nitrous oxide (A.k.a Laughing Gas), alkyl nitrites/poppers (also a muscle relaxant), spray paint, air freshener, hair spray, fly spray, deodorant, gases, whipped cream aerosols (A.k.a. “Whip-its”).
Other Depressants:
• GHB: used to treat insomnia, depression, narcolepsy, and alcoholism, and to improve athletic performance, often used as “Date-rape drug”. A.k.a. G
• Muscle Relaxants: there is some overlap between benzodiazepines and muscle relaxants. For example, there are benzodiazepine muscle relaxants such as Valium or Ativan, and non-benzodiazepine muscle relaxants such as Robaxin and alkyl nitrites.
• Alcohol


Stimulants are drugs that cause the central nervous system to become excited.
• Cocaine/Crack Cocaine: A.k.a. Coke, Blow, Whites, Rock, Snow, Base
• Amphetamines: used to treat narcolepsy, ADHD, and Parkinson’s. Examples include Dexedrine (A.k.a Dex), KHAT
– Methamphetamines: A.k.a. Speed, Crystal, Meth, Ice
• Methylphenidate: A.k.a. Ritalin
• MDPV: MDPV is most commonly found in “Bath Salts”
• Caffeine: coffee, caffeine pills
• Tobacco/Nicotine: cigarettes, the patch, tobacco chew


Hallucinogens are drugs that distort perception.
• LSD: A.k.a. Acid, Cid/Sid
• Psilocybin Mushrooms: A.k.a Magic Mushrooms, Shrooms
• DMT: often used as the main psychoactive ingrediant in Ayahausca
• Peyote: The peyote cactus produces the drug Mescaline. A.k.a. Devil’s Root, Dry-Whiskey, Mescal-Buttons
• Salvia Divinorum: A.k.a. Salvia, Diviners Sage
• Ketamine: Ketamine can also be categorized as a depressants as it was originally intended to be used as a tranquillizer. A.k.a. Special K
• MDMA/Ecstasy: Ecstasy may not always necessarily act as a hallucinogen, as when it is purchased on the street it is often “cut” or “mixed” with other drugs, most often stimulants. A.k.a. Candies, Molly, E, XTC, Md’s

Mixed Effect

Mixed effect drugs are drugs that may depress or excite the central nervous system, or distort perception.
• Cannabis: A.k.a. Marijuana, Pot, Weed, Reefer, Grass, Trees, Chronic, Ganja
• PCP: A.k.a. Angel Dust
• Bath Salts: Not much is currently known about Bath Salts. One of the most common ingrediants found in Bath Salts is MDPV, which is a stimulant. Bath Salts are reported to have hallucinogenic and stimulant-like properties.

Note: some drugs produce different reactions at different doses. For example, cannabis can produce a stimulant reaction at low doses, a depressant reaction at moderate doses, and a hallucinogen reaction at very high doses. Not all people will have all reactions, and most people will never reach the level where they achieve hallucinations.