Types of Drugs You Need To Know

Drugs fall into seven basic categories: alcohol, narcotics, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, cannabis and steroids. Drugs within each category affect the body in a different way and create diverse side-effects and symptoms of use. The following guide outlines the major details about each category of drug.

In the United States, 22.7% of all young adults ages 12-20 have reported drinking alcohol in the past month.

Alcohol is the most used drug in the United States. Alcohol is a depressant that decreases the responses of the central nervous system and creates a loss of coordination, staggering and slurred speech. Alcohol can also cause nerve and liver damage.

In 2017, 16.5% of 12th graders admitted to misusing a prescription drug in their lifetime.  7.5% abused Adderall and 2.0% admitted to abusing Ritalin.

While many people believe medications are safer to abuse than illegal drugs because they are prescribed by a doctor, prescription drug abuse can easily lead to addiction. For some, this addiction directly leads to heroin abuse.

In 2015, 44.7% of 12th graders admitted to using marijuana in their lifetime, with 34.9% having used it in the last month.

Cannabis is the hemp plant from which marijuana and hashish are made. Cannabis can result in a loss of appetite, impaired memory and concentration, loss of coordination and many other side-effects.

Codeine:  It's been estimated that 33 million Americans use codeine and other opiate medications for non-medical purposes each year.

These drugs can be used medicinally to relieve pain but also have a high potential for abuse. They cause relaxation with an immediate "rush" but also lead to restlessness and nausea. Includes substances such as heroin and codeine.

LSD:  In 2015, 4.3% of 12th graders and 3.0% of 10th graders admitted to using LSD in their lifetime.

PCP:  2.4% of Americans will try PCP in their lifetime.

There are no known medical uses for hallucinogens, which produce multiple and dramatic behavior changes. Effects include rapidly changing feelings, hallucinations, confusion, anxiety and loss of control. Includes substances such as LSD, PCP and ecstasy.

Cocaine:  While 0.9% of teens aged 12-17 have tried cocaine in their lifetime, 11.1% of surveyed adults aged 18-25 have tried cocaine at least once.

Amphetamines:  Adults over 26 are the highest abusers of meth, with 5.7% of Americans admitting to having abused meth, with 3.7% of young adults aged 12-25 having tried it.

Stimulants are used to increase alertness and relieve fatigue. They can result in increased heart rates, elevated blood pressure, loss of coordination, dizziness, hallucinations, convulsions and many other side-effects. Includes substances such as cocaine and amphetamines.

Inhalants:  1.7% more 8th graders admitted to using inhalants in the last year than 10th graders (4.6% of 8th graders, 2.9% of 10th graders).

Depressants can also be used medicinally to relieve anxiety, irritability and tension. Like narcotics they come with a high potential for abuse. Users also develop tolerance to the drug so that as use continues they need more of the drug to get the same effects. Includes substances such as barbiturates, inhalants and benzodiazepines.

In 2014, 11% of teens in grades 9-12 admitted to having used steroids at least once in their lifetime, up from 5% in 2012.

Steroids are synthetic compounds that can cause an increase in body weight and muscle strength as well as severe rashes, stunted growth and behavioral changes including aggressiveness.