Most people are familiar with the different types of illicit or illegal drugs available in the United States, but not as many know the three different categories associated with these drugs. Some drugs such as marijuana and ecstasy have a combination of the characteristics of the three different categories associated with drugs.
The first category of drugs is called depressants. Depressants depress the central nervous system and reduce pain relieving stress, anxiety, and fear putting the person at ease. However, depressants are very addictive and the end result is usually a lessening of one’s ability to deal with any stress, fear, or anxiety. Not surprisingly, alcohol is the most frequently used depressant, although for some, alcohol can cause similar symptoms of stimulants and hallucinogens.
Heroin is the most frequently used illegal depressant. Other depressants include morphine, codeine methadone, barbiturates, and tranquilizers. Even though morphine and codeine are often used by doctors, they are depressants and, like the illegal depressants, can and will cause addiction. Inhalants such as glue, paint thinner, and hair spray are also considered depressants and have the same effect as alcohol.
The second category is stimulants. Stimulants elevate the mood, producing feelings of excitement, feeling good, and euphoria. Stimulants give the user an adrenaline rush often followed by a crash. Heavy use of stimulants result in paranoia, restlessness, fidgetiness, (constant body movements), apathy, irritability, and depression. The most frequently used stimulant is coffee and caffeine. The most common illegal stimulant is cocaine and amphetamines.
The third category is hallucinogens. Hallucinogens alter perceptual functions or better known as mind-altering drugs. There are no legalized hallucinogens as this type of drug is extremely dangerous and unpredictable.
The most frequently used hallucinogens are LSD and PCP. Users of hallucinogens experience a complete fantasy or hallucination including out of body experiences or misperceptions of reality, distortion, the mixing of senses – hearing colors and seeing sounds, and experience a combination of emotions or go from one emotion to the next rapidly. Users may experience what is known as a “good” trip or a “bad” trip. A “bad” trip, which is similar to a panic or anxiety attack, can result in violent behavior toward oneself or someone else or the person can suffer a mental breakdown.
Marijuana and ecstasy both have characteristics of each of these categories. However, marijuana wouldn’t cause the gross hallucinations of hallucinogens or the adrenaline rush of stimulants; nor the complete reduction in pain or immense relaxation of depressants.