Top 8 Drug Categories


Physicians use drug categories according to the effects they have on the human body. Drug recognition experts group drugs into different categories depending on how they impact the body after use. Some drugs may slow down the body, and other drugs can speed up bodily functions. The drug categories are:

  • Stimulants
  • Inhalants
  • Cannabinoids
  • Depressants
  • Opioids
  • Steroids
  • Hallucinogens
  • Prescription drugs

There is a common misconception that these drugs that have opposite effects (such as stimulants and depressants) have the ability to cancel each other out. This is untrue and drug use like this can, in fact, be fatal. The body may become overwhelmed, the heart may beat abnormally, and tragic side effects may ensue. Drugs from these categories can impair a person’s central nervous system and ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

Drug Categories

Drugs come in various forms, and can be taken numerous ways. Some are legal and others are not. Drug abuse and misuse can cause numerous health problems, and in serious cases death can occur. Treatment for drug abuse is often sought to aid in recovery.


Stimulants speed up the body’s nervous system and create a feeling of energy. They are also called “uppers” because of their ability to make you feel very awake. Stimulants have the opposite effect of depressants. When the effects of a stimulant wear off, the user is typically left with feelings of sickness and a loss of energy. Constant use of such drugs, when not used as prescribed, can have very negative effects on the user. In order to prevent extreme negative side effects of these drugs and the impact they have on life, drug treatment centers are often recommended.

Types of drugs include:

  1. Cocaine
  2. Methamphetamines
  3. Amphetamines
  4. Ritalin
  5. Cylert


Inhalants are sniffed or huffed and give the user immediate results. Unfortunately, these immediate results can also result in sudden mental damage. When inhalants are taken, the body becomes deprived of oxygen, causing a rapid heart beat. Other effects include liver, lung and kidney problems, affected sense of smell, difficulty walking and confusion.

Types of drugs include:

  1. Glues
  2. Paint thinner
  3. Gasoline
  4. Laughing gas
  5. Aerosol sprays


These drugs result in feelings of euphoria, cause confusion and memory problems, anxiety, a higher heart rate, as well as staggering and poor reaction time.

Types of drugs include:

  1. Hashish
  2. Marijuana


Depressants slow down activity in the central nervous system of your body. These drugs are also called “downers” because they slow the body down and seem to give feelings of relaxation. Depressants are available as prescription drugs to relieve stress and anger, although drowsiness is often a side effect. The “relaxation” felt from these drugs is not a healthy feeling for the body to experience, to stop abuse of this drug, drug treatment is suggested.

Types of drugs:

  1. Barbiturates
  2. Benzodiazepines
  3. Flunitrazepam
  4. GHB (Gamma-hydroxybutyrate)
  5. Methaqualone
  6. Alcohol
  7. Tranquillisers

Opioids & Morphine Derivatives

Opioids and morphine derivatives can cause drowsiness, confusion, nausea, feelings of euphoria, respiratory complications and relieve pain.

Types of drugs include:

  1. Codeine
  2. Fentanyl and fentanyl analogs
  3. Heroin
  4. Morphine
  5. Opium
  6. Oxycodone HCL
  7. Hydrocodone bitartrate, acetaminophen

Anabolic Steroids

Steroids are taken to improve physical performance as well as to enlarge muscles and increase strength. Negative effects of steroids include baldness, cysts, oily hair and skin, acne, heart attack, stroke and change in voice. Hostility is also a frequent side effect of anabolic steroids.

Types of drugs include:

  1. Anadrol
  2. Oxandrin
  3. Durabolin
  4. Stanozol
  5. Dianabol


When taking hallucinogens, switching emotions is frequent. These drugs change the mind and cause the appearance of things that are not really there. Hallucinogens affect the body’s self-control, such as speech and movement, and often bring about hostility. Other negative side effects of these drugs include heart failure, increased heart rate, higher blood pressure and changes in the body’s hormones.

Types of drugs include:

  1. LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide)
  2. Mescaline
  3. Psilocybin
  4. Magic Mushrooms

Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs can be very helpful drugs when used properly and when under the guidance of a qualified physician. These drugs can be used as aids in surgery, to treat medical conditions and while controlling various symptoms. Misuse and abuse of prescription drugs however can be very dangerous.

Types of drugs include:

  1. Opiods: Codeine, Oxycodone, Morphine
  2. Central nervous system depressants: barbiturates, benzodiazepines
  3. Stimulants: dextroamphetamine, methylphenidate

At Casa Palmera, our mission statement is to aid in addiction recovery by using integration of a holistic program of total healing that embraces the language of recovery, philosophy, and psychology. Call us to get you or a loved on back on their feet.

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This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.