What Are the Different Types of Drugs?

Drugs are often categorized based on the effects they produce. In this article, we shall understand what are the different types of drugs, each with its own set of characteristics, effects, risks, and dangers. These categories include stimulants, depressants, opioids, psychedelics, inhalants, cannabinoids, dissociatives, and empathogens.

One of the most devastating truths about drug abuse is that often you will be completely unaware of the dangers and long-term risks of substance abuse. If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction it is important to speak in confidence to a trained professional who can better assess the situation and make the appropriate treatment recommendations.

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Stimulants are some of the most commonly abused drugs in the world. Referred to as ‘uppers’, they produce instant feelings of euphoria, confidence, and alertness. Stimulants are habit-forming, highly addictive, and can cause severe physical and psychological dependence and addiction. Different types of stimulants include caffeine, nicotine, cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamine, and prescription stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin. Medicinal stimulants are typically prescribed for disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, anxiety, and depression.

Effects of Stimulants:

  • Racing heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Energy
  • Confidence
  • Euphoria
  • Suppressed appetite
  • Clenched jaw
  • Dilated pupils
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Arousal
  • Impatience

What Are the Different Types of Drugs


In contrast to stimulants, depressants slow down the central nervous system. The most commonly known depressant is alcohol, often used to relax and socialise. Other depressants such as Xanax, are prescribed by doctors for people who suffer from anxiety, OCD, insomnia, and other medical conditions that prevent an individual from being able to fully relax. This classification of drugs often gives you the experience of being sedated, making them a key choice for those who suffer from a lot of stress in their life.

Effects of Depressants

  • Relaxed
  • Confident
  • Risk-taking
  • Euphoria
  • Increased body temperature
  • Sluggish thinking
  • Impaired memory
  • Low blood pressure
  • Loss of coordination


Opioids are a classification of drugs derived from the opium plant, a chemical that naturally occurs in poppy seeds and other plants. Opioids can be pure, synthetic and/or semi-synthetic. Commonly used as painkillers, they produce a sense of euphoria. They are often prescribed by doctors to people who are suffering from intense and chronic pain. They are incredibly habit-forming and addiction can occur quickly.

Effects of Opioids

  • Confident
  • Pain-free
  • Safe
  • Sleepy
  • The feeling of being invincible
  • Warm
  • Itchy
  • Constricted pupils
  • Lowered breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Euphoria
  • Sweaty
  • Chemical dependence


Also referred to as hallucinogens, this classification of drug is often taken for a spiritual awakening experience. Drugs such as LSD and magic mushrooms or truffles, affect the brain in a way that gives you experiences that appear out of this world, literally distorted from reality.

Effects of Psychedelics

  • Spiritual connection
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of control
  • Heightened senses
  • Opening doors of perception
  • Panic
  • Mood swings
  • Arousal
  • Fear
  • Vomiting
  • Psychosis


Many other types of drugs can be inhaled, however, when referring to inhalants we are talking about household items that can be inhaled. The high may differ from inhalant to inhalant and most abusers will try and get their hands on an everyday household item to get high. These items include aerosol sprays, room deodorisers, sharpie markers, paint thinner, gasoline, glue, and paint, to name a few.

Effects of Inhalants

  • Loss of smell
  • Brain damage
  • Nosebleeds
  • Weakness
  • Euphoria
  • Blue lips
  • Increased heart rate
  • Euphoria
  • Dizziness
  • Giggles
  • Slurred speech
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of consciousness

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One of the most commonly used drugs in the world, cannabis acts as a hallucinogen and can also produce depressant-like side effects. Most commonly recognised as marijuana, there has been growing legalisation of this classification of a drug as the medical community has embraced the drug having medical benefits to people suffering from anxiety, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other medical conditions.

Effects of Cannabis Use

  • Depression
  • Slowed reaction times
  • Paranoia
  • Increased anxiety
  • Sedation
  • Reduced sexual arousal
  • Reduced sperm count
  • Enhanced senses
  • Impaired sense of time
  • Calm
  • Relaxed
  • Floaty
  • Reduced pain
  • Loss of memory
  • Dry mouth
  • Changes in appetite
what are the different types of drugs


This classification of drugs, such as Ketamine, distorts your perception of reality and causes you to dissociate, hence the name. They may feel they are watching themselves from outside their bodies, a common experience mentioned in PTSD sufferers. These drugs can give the individual a false sense of invincibility encouraging them to participate in risky behaviour.

Effects of Dissociatives

  • Euphoria
  • Floaty
  • Relaxed
  • Happy
  • Pain-free
  • Numb
  • Unaware
  • Hallucinations
  • Disconnection from reality
  • Protected
  • Social withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Speech difficulties
  • Loss of memory


Also referred to as entactogens, empathogens increase a person’s feeling of being connected to others. They affect the brain by causing a release of dopamine and serotonin. Typically found in pill form they can also come crystallised or in capsule form and are usually swallowed, but can be snorted or rectally administered, also known as shelved.

Effects of Empathogens

  • Belonging
  • Empathy
  • Connection
  • Understanding
  • Energy
  • Sexual arousal
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Sweaty
  • Warmth
  • Dehydration
  • Hypo-hydration

Getting Help for Drug Addiction

Abusing any type of substance can lead to catastrophic consequences. If you or someone you know is exhibiting dangerous behaviour such as driving under the influence you should seek help immediately.

Location and travel can often deter people from seeking treatment. Fortunately, CATCH Recovery London can help whether you live in the South East of England, elsewhere in the UK, or abroad. Our Telehealth service allows patients to participate in therapy sessions remotely.

what are the different types of drugs

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