Classification of Drugs General Drug Classifications according to: 1. Effect a. Depressants (Downers) Depressant substances reduce arousal and stimulation. They do not necessarily make a person feel depressed. They affect the central nervous system, slowing down the messages between the brain and the body. They can affect concentration and coordination. They slow down the person’s ability to respond to unexpected situations. In small doses they can cause a person to feel more relaxed and less inhibited. In larger doses they can cause drowsiness, vomiting, unconsciousness and death. b. Stimulants (Uppers) Stimulants are a group of drugs that result in increased activity in the body. Sometimes referred to as “uppers,” these drugs are frequently abused due to their performance-enhancing and euphoric effects. Generally, those who abuse stimulants experience heightened energy levels and enhanced focus. Stimulants speed up mental and physical processes, which can produce desirable effects in the short-term by increasing levels of dopamine in the brain. While users may feel great due to the short-term effects of stimulants, long-term abuse of these drugs can have significant consequences, which is why it is so important for those who abuse the drugs to get help as quickly as possible. There are both legal and illicit stimulants, and both categories are commonly abused. Some of the most commonly abused stimulants include cocaine, methamphetamine, and prescription stimulants, like Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta. c. Hallucinogens Hallucinogens are a diverse group of drugs that alter a person’s awareness of their surroundings as well as their own thoughts and feelings. They are commonly split into two categories: classic hallucinogens (such as LSD) and dissociative drugs (such as PCP). Both types of hallucinogens can cause hallucinations, or sensations and images that seem real though they are not. Additionally, dissociative drugs can cause users to feel out of control or disconnected from their body and environment. Some hallucinogens are extracted from plants or mushrooms, and some are synthetic (human-made). Historically, people have used hallucinogens for religious or healing rituals. More recently, people report using these drugs for social or recreational purposes, including to have fun, deal with stress, have spiritual experiences, or just to feel different. 2. Medical Pharmacology a. Depressant b. Narcotics - Also known as “opioids,” the term “narcotic” comes from the Greek word for “stupor” and originally referred to a variety of substances that dulled the senses and relieved pain. Though some people still refer to all drugs as “narcotics,” today “narcotic” refers to opium, opium derivatives, and their semi-synthetic substitutes. A more current term for these drugs, with less uncertainty regarding its meaning, is “opioid.” Examples include the illicit drug heroin and pharmaceutical drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, codeine, morphine, methadone, and fentanyl. c. Tranquilizers - Tranquilizer, also spelled Tranquillizer, drug that is used to reduce anxiety, fear, tension, agitation, and related states of mental disturbance. Tranquilizers fall into two main classes, major and minor. Major tranquilizers, which are also known as antipsychotic agents, or neuroleptics, are so called because they are used to treat major states of mental disturbance in schizophrenics and other psychotic patients. By contrast, minor tranquilizers, which are also known as antianxiety agents, or anxiolytics, are used to treat milder states of anxiety and tension in healthy individuals or people with less serious mental disorders. The major and minor tranquilizers bear only a superficial resemblance to each other, and the trend has been to drop the use of the word tranquilizer altogether in reference to such drugs, though the term persists in popular usage. d. Stimulants e. Hallucinogens f. Solvent/Inhalants – are a broad range of household and industrial chemicals whose volatile vapors or pressurized gases can be concentrated and breathed in via the nose or mouth to produce intoxication, in a manner not intended by the manufacturer. They are inhaled at room temperature through volatilization (in the case of gasoline or acetone) or from a pressurized container (e.g., nitrous oxide or butane), and do not include drugs that are sniffed after burning or heating. For example, amyl nitrite (poppers), nitrous oxide and toluene – a solvent widely used in contact cement, permanent markers, and certain types of glue – are considered inhalants, but smoking tobacco, cannabis, and crack are not, even though these drugs are inhaled as smoke. 3. Legal Categories: a. Prohibited Drugs – a substance, such as a drug, etc, that is banned or forbidden by law or other authority i. Narcotics ii. Stimulants iii. Hallucinogens b. Regulated Drugs i. Barbiturates – Barbiturates are central nervous depressants. They reduce the activity of nerves causing muscle relaxation. They can reduce heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. All barbiturates affect gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter (chemical) that nerves use to communicate with one another. ii. Hypnotics – (from Greek Hypnos, sleep), or soporific drugs, commonly known as sleeping pills are a class of psychoactive drugs whose primary function is to induce sleep and for the treatment of insomnia (sleeplessness), or for surgical anesthesia. This group is related to sedatives. Whereas the term sedative describes drugs that serve to calm or relieve anxiety, the term hypnotic generally describes drugs whose main purpose is to initiate, sustain, or lengthen sleep. Because these two functions frequently overlap, and because drugs in this class generally produce dose-dependent effects (ranging from anxiolysis to loss of consciousness) they are often referred to collectively as sedative-hypnotic drugs. iii. Amphetamines – Amphetamines are stimulant drugs, which means they speed up the messages travelling between the brain and the body. Some types of amphetamines are legally prescribed by doctors to treat conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (where a person has an uncontrollable urge to sleep). Amphetamines have also been used to treat Parkinson’s disease. c. Volatile Substances – Volatile substance use may be defined as the deliberate inhalation of volatile compounds to produce psychoactive effects. These compounds have few characteristics in common, other than their intoxication effects and the behavioral effects they produce. Such volatile substances are often referred to as inhalants, a term which encompasses a diverse group of psychoactive chemicals that are defined by the route of administration, rather than their mechanism of action on the central nervous system or psychoactive effects. Domestic products such as spray deodorants, glue, lighter refills and spray air fresheners can be used as drugs. How drugs can be used? Drugs are used many ways. Different drugs can be used in different ways. Some drugs are available in different forms and each form is used a certain way. Crack cocaine (cocaine in a solid form) is smoked or vaporized. Powder cocaine (cocaine in a salt form) is snorted. Drugs can be taken: Orally - The drug is placed in the mouth, then swallowed. Pills are used orally. Smoked - The drug is burned, then the smoke is inhaled. Pipes, bongs, cigars and cigarettes are used to smoke. Insufflated - The drug is a powder. The powder is snorted directly into the nose. Vaporized - The drug is heated until it turns into a vapor. The vapor is breathed in. Sublingually - The drug is placed under the tongue. The drug is absorbed through the vein under the tongue. Dissolving tablets are an example of sublingual drug use. Buccally - The drug is absorbed through the cheek. The drug is placed between the cheek and the gums. Intravenous - (also called IV) - The drug is injected into the veins. Usually, it is injected through the arm. A needle and syringe are used for injection. Intramuscular - (also called IM) - The drug is injected into a muscle. A needle and syringe are also used for injection. Rectally - The drug is placed in the anus and absorbed there. The anal drug is called a suppository. Transdermal - The drug is absorbed through the skin. Nicotine patches and fentanyl patches are used transdermal.