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Classification of Drugs

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
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
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
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.