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What Are The Five Types Of Drugs?

Drugs can be grouped into different categories based on their chemical properties and effects on users. They can be stimulants or depressants and work primarily on the central nervous system. Discover the five types of drugs with some information on them.  

Types of Drugs

The following categories of drugs include recreational and illicit and include depressants, stimulants, opiates and opioids, hallucinogens, and Marijuana.  

Central nervous system depressants — Alcohol, benzodiazepines, and sedatives

  • Noticeable signs of depressant use are lethargy, lack of concentration, and excessive sleeping.
  • Common addiction
  • Mixing depressants with benzos and/or tranquilizers can be fatal.
  • Benzo withdrawal can be very challenging and requires medical supervision. Going “cold turkey” could be fatal.
  • Almost 50 percent of traffic fatalities are because of alcohol.

Central nervous system stimulants — amphetamines include cocaine, caffeine, Methadone, diet pills, and Ritalin

  • Some observable signs of stimulant use include excessive cheerfulness or talkativeness, sleeping difficulties, frequent urination, and loss of appetite. 
  • Withdrawal symptoms can be depression and drowsiness, weakness, and lack of interest and hunger.
  • “Speed” is commonly sold in middle and high schools, with most of these sales involving pills that look like prescription amphetamines, but are really caffeine tablets. Even though these pills are as harmful as real speed, they can still be taken in excess to produce the desired effect. When the actual speed is consumed in large quantities, people can have a severe drug reaction.
  • Cocaine caused an estimated 18,885 emergency visits nationwide, as of 2015, according to the CDC. (Centers for Disease Control) 

Opiates and Opioids — heroin and morphine (opiates); Demerol, Darvon, and Methadone (opioids)

  • Opiates occur naturally, and opioids are man-made drugs that create the same effect.
  • These substances produce a sense of well-being and euphoria, which help to block out pain and life’s challenges. 
  • Users may experience drowsiness and lack of appetite and attention. 

Hallucinogens — LSD, mescaline, peyote, and methamphetamine

  • Produce changes in perception and visual illusions and alternation of the senses
  • Users may have problems concentrating, with flights of disconnected ideas and wild mood swings.
  • MDMA is a designer drug that has the street names of “ecstasy,” “X-T-C,” “essence,” and “clarity.” It’s more likely to cause drug-induced psychosis than crack cocaine and more apt to produce violent reactions.
  • PCP, otherwise known as “angel dust,” is a large animal tranquilizer and what currently passes for LSD, mescaline, and other hallucinogens. This is a hazardous drug that can produce violent reactions, long-term psychological effects, and possibly brain damage.


  • Marijuana use causes many of the same symptoms as hallucinogens but in fewer concentrations.
  • Bloodshot eyes are a hallmark sign of recent marijuana use, and users will often have Visine on-hand to mask eye irritation.
  • Some visible signs of marijuana use are carrying rolling papers, having a small decorative pipe, using incense to mask the odor, having paper clips with burnt carbon marks, and having sudden cravings for sweet foods.
  • Marijuana is a gateway drug that can lead to abusing other, more harmful drugs.

Overcome Drug Addiction with Ardu Recovery Center

Drug addiction can ruin someone’s life if allowed to continue. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, please reach out and contact us. We approach drug addiction with holistic methods that treat the whole person, focusing on their mental health with proven strategies that help break the cycle of addiction and prevent relapse.