Types of drugs

If we classify drugs by the effects they have, then there are 3 types of drugs:

  • Depressants (downers): drugs that suppress the activity of the central nervous system and thus feelings or pain. These include alcohol, sleeping pills, tranquillisers, opium, morphine and heroin. Hashish and marijuana (cannabis) are also used for their relaxing effects.
  • Stimulants (uppers): drugs that give you energy, such as caffeine, nicotine, ecstasy, cocaine and speed.
  • Psychedelics: drugs that alter your sensory perceptions. Examples are magic mushrooms, LSD, 2C-B and large or strong doses of cannabis.

What does it mean to be addicted?

Psychological addiction

You don’t get addicted to a drug just by using it once. It can take months or years for most substances. It starts with the occasional use of a substance. Some people stick to using occasionally, but others get carried away and begin taking the substance more often and in larger doses. That happens especially if you start using alcohol or drugs for a negative reason. For example to get rid of a bad mood: you’re feeling depressed or stressed and a few drinks or joints make you feel better. That might seem to work for a short period. But it is not going to help in the long run, and the bad mood will come back quickly. So you keep trying it over and over. You start to notice you need more to get the same effect or that you start to use more often than before. When you are not using the drug, you start craving it. You’ve become psychologically addicted to it.

Physical addiction

Not only that, but your body gets more and more accustomed to the use of alcohol or other drugs. At some point, they don’t help anymore and you need increasing amounts to get the same effect as before. You start taking higher doses. Your body now expects to receive alcohol or other drugs on a daily basis. If you stop or reduce the amount you have been taking, your body protests. You may even get sick. That is called withdrawal symptoms. That is what we cal physical addiction.