There are considered to be seven different drug types — stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, dissociatives, opiods, inhalants and cannabis — and each has its own set of effects and risks:
Stimulants impact the body’s central nervous system, causing the user to feel as if they are "speeding up." These drugs increase the level of alertness, pumping up heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and blood glucose levels. Stimulants often come in pill form but are also consumed via snorting or even as food and drink.
• Examples — Cocaine, methamphetamine, synthetic marijuana, ecstasy, Adderall, Ritalin, caffeine and tobacco.
• Risks — Anxiety, paranoia, psychosis, high body temperature, depression, heart failure, stroke and seizures.
Depressants depressants also impact the body’s CNS, but with the opposite effect, making users feel as if things are "slowing down." Thus, they are often called "downers" on the street.
• Examples — Rohypnol, barbiturates, Xanax, Valium, benziodiazepines, alcohol and tobacco.
• Risks — Higher risk of high blood sugar, diabetes and weight gain; increased body temperature, delirium, sluggish thinking, low blood pressure, impaired memory, hallucinations and death from withdrawal.
Hallucinogens work by disrupting communication within the brain. Users report intense, rapidly shifting emotions and perceptions of things that aren’t really there. Hallucinogens come in many forms, which can be smoked, eaten, ingested as pills and even mixed into beverages.
• Examples — LSD, Psilocybin, Salvia and Peyote.
• Risks — Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (aka flashbacks), fear, distorted cognition, paranoia, psychosis, anxiety, increased blood pressure and nausea.
Dissociatives distort the user’s perception of reality, and cause users to "dissociate," or feel as if they are watching themselves from outside their own bodies. They may gain a false sense of invincibility, and then engage in risky behavior. The drugs work by interfering with the brain’s receptors for the chemical glutamate, which plays a significant role in cognition, emotionality and pain perception. Dissociatives can be taken as liquids, powders, solids or gases.
• Examples — Ketamine, DXM (Dextromethorphan), PCP (phencyclidine).
• Risks — Depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, speech difficulties, social withdrawal, hallucinations, detachment from reality, numbness and memory loss.
Opioids are powerful painkillers that produce a sense of euphoria in users. Derived from the poppy plant, opioids are extremely habit-forming, sometimes even causing addiction in as little as three days. When someone decides to stop using opioids, they suffer tremendously. Opioids can be smoked, eaten, drank, injected or taken as pills.
• Examples — Heroin, Morphine, Hydrocodone, Opium, Vicodin, Oxycontin, Percocet, Codeine.
• Risks — Constipation, liver damage, brain impairment, euphoria, drowsiness, sedation, pupil dilation and cardiac arrest (if dose is too high).
Inhalants are mostly made up of everyday household items, these drugs cause brief feelings of euphoria. As the name suggests, inhalants are always inhaled as gases or fumes. The "highs" slightly differ from inhalant to inhalant, but most abusers are willing to huff whatever inhalant they can acquire.
• Examples — Fumes of markers, paint, paint thinner, gasoline and glue; nitrous oxide; aerosol sprays; room deodorizers.
• Risks — Immediate and long-term loss of smell, brain damage, nosebleed, weakness, euphoria, increased heart rate, loss of consciousness, hallucinations and slurred speech.
Cannabis is most commonly recognized as marijuana, acting like a hallucinogen, but also produces depressant-like effects. It has increasing medicinal uses in the United States, but marijuana is often abused by those who do not require it medically. Cannabis can be smoked, vaporized, and even eaten, if the THC is first rendered from the plant matter.
• Examples — Marijuana leaves, hashish, hash oil, cannabis-based medicines such as Sativex.
• Risks — Short- and long-term lowered immunity to illness, depression, chronic anxiety, reduced sperm count in men, sedation, slow reaction times, enhanced senses and impaired sense of time.
(The information included with this release was obtained from The Recovery Village website).