Abused Drug Categories

How are drugs classified?

Drugs and medications of abuse can be grouped together into categories based on similarities between:

  • How they work.
  • What effects they will produce in the human body and brain.

A useful categorization scheme follows. We'll consider each class of drugs in turn, but if you want to, you can skip ahead to read about the particular drug class that interests you most.

How are drugs classified?

Central Nervous System Depressants

  • Alcohol
  • Barbiturates ['ludes, sleepers, downers, tranquilizers]
  • Benzodiazepines (Valium, Ativan, Librium, Xanax, Ambien) [sleepers, downers, tranquilizers]

Central Nervous System Stimulants

  • Cocaine (Crack, Blow, Nose, Snow, Toot, White, Rock, Flake)
  • Amphetamine & Methamphetamine (Ritalin, Meth, Uppers, Bennies, Crank, Crystal)
  • Caffeine (Coffee)
  • Nicotine (Cigarettes, Chew)



  • Marijuana (Marinol, Pot, Grass, Weed, Brick, Joint, Thai Stick, Mary Jane)
  • Hashish (Hash, Ganja, Rope)


  • LSD (Acid)
  • Mescaline (Cactus)
  • Psilocybin, ('Shrooms, Mushrooms)
  • MDMA (Love Drug, "X", Ecstacy)


  • Aerosol sprays
  • Glues
  • Paint Thinner
  • Gasoline

Other Drugs of Abuse

  • PCP (Angel Dust)
  • Sam Bradley

    Would you please update your drug information to include the club drugs. I believe mdma is considered to be a club but what about mda and some of the others?

  • Anonymous-1

    I had recreational experience with many drugs in my youth. At a certain point I compleated the "experiment". I do not use drugs for recreational purposes and think they are harmful to my body and destroy personal relationships.

    i met a man who was part of my social circle. I asked him alot of questions including whether or not he used drugs. "Been there done that" was his reply. As a mature woman I took him at his word as he was also a middle aged man. He hid his use and I never suspected what was going on. After knowing him 2 years we had a very irrational quarrel. It was then I discovered his secret. I was angry at him for lying to me and putting me through so much trouble and told him to get lost.

    A couple of months later he came back, saying he messed me, wanted to change, had never intended to go down this path, etc. The man is smart, educated and succesful. By then I had invested so much energy in the relationship I thought I would give it another chance because he seemed to be sincere.

    Well, I wasted 2 more years of my life on this man. I wish I knew more about drug addiction. I got quite a hurtful lesson. I would say that anyone who is involved in a romantic relationship with a user should run away fast, unless the person is seriously involved in a supervised medical and emotional rehabilitation program. He always went back to his drug buddies. he loved and trusted them more than he was able to love and trust me.