Drugs & Parenting
Drugs & Parenting Guide
Alcohol Guide
Drugs Overview
Drugs Introduction
Stimulants Guide Amphetamine-type Cocaine
Depressants Guide GHB Marijuana Inhalants Heroin
Hallucinogens Guide
Getting Help
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The Three Main Categories of Drugs

Some drugs due to certain factors that change their characteristics, may cause them to fall under different categories at different times. For example, even though Cannabis is considered a depressant, in high enough doses it can also be a hallucinogen.

The three main categories were constructed based on similarities that certain drugs share; however, there are many differences that these drugs have also.


Stimulants are drugs that stimulate the brain and central nervous system, speeding up communication between the two. They usually increase alertness and physical activity. They include amphetamines, cocaine, crack and some inhalants like amyl or butyl nitrites. Your everyday coffee is a stimulant that many people have formed an addiction to. Those who stop drinking coffee even suffer withdrawal symptoms. more on stimulants >>


Depressants slow down the activity of the brain and nervous system, slowing down the communication between the two. For medical purposes they can calm nerves, relax muscles and useful for sleeping disorders such as insomnia. more on depressants >>


Hallucinogens interfere with the brain and central nervous system in a way that results in radical distortions of a user’s perception of reality. Profound images, sounds and sensations will be experienced, but they will not actually exist. These are vivid hallucinations. more on hallucinogens >>

List of drugs


  • Ecstasy
  • Speed
  • Base
  • Ice
  • Methamphetamine
  • Amphetamine
  • Dexamphetamine
  • Phentermine
  • Methylamphetamine
  • Crystal Methylamphetamine
  • Paramethoxyamphetamine
  • Cocaine
  • Crack Cocaine


  • Cannabis
  • GHB
  • Inhalants
  • Heroin
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Pethidine
  • Dilaudid
  • Kapanol
  • MS Contin


  • LSD
  • Magic Mushrooms (Psilocybin)
  • PCP (Phencyclidine)
  • Ketamine
  • Mescaline

Effects and symptoms are only potential

The list of desired and unwanted effects for different drugs can be quite long but it’s important to understand they are merely potential effects of the drugs and may or may not be experienced by all users. This depends on a variety of factors including:

  • A user’s physical, psychological and genetic makeup
  • The current physical and psychological state of a user
  • The source, quality, quantity and strength of the drug taken
  • Method of use

Different users will experience the effects of drugs differently. Some users may react to specific drugs in a way that the desired side effects far outweigh the unwanted side effects. Conversely, another person may experience severe unwanted effects from the same drug outweighing the desired effects, if any desired effects have been experienced at all.

Desired or unwanted effect?

What may seem a desired effect to one person may be experienced as an unwanted effect by another person. Let’s take for example hallucinations, altered memory and decreased coordination. These effects could be seen as negative or positive depending on the user.


Just as effects are only potential, symptoms are also. Take for example Cannabis. A user may become extremely hungry, eating lots of food, still alert and laughing excessively. Others may be quiet, paranoid and sleepy.