Drugs are often recognised as hard or soft, legal or illegal, uppers or downers or addictive and non-addictive. However they can also be categorised based upon the effect they produce as stimulants, depressants and hallucinogens.
Stimulants are drugs that increase the activity of the central nervous system and increase brain activity. Examples include cocaine and crack, ecstasy, alkyl nitrites, amphetamines, anabolic steroids and nicotine. Some of these give the feelings of greater confidence, energy and alertness.
Depressants are drugs that reduce the activity of the central nervous system and slow down brain activity. Examples include solvents, alcohol, barbiturates, heroin and tranquillisers. Common affects of these drugs are impaired coordination, judgement and balance.
Hallucinogens alter perceptions of reality, changing the way users experience the world through their senses. Examples include cannabis, LSD, magic mushrooms and ketamine. Often users will see and hear things that are not real. Hallucinogens can also trigger psychotic reactions, including paranoia.
Causes of drug abuse
There are many reasons why individuals may abuse drugs, and these will vary from person to person. However some common reasons are likely to be:
- the belief that drugs can solve problems
- peer pressure
- need to experiment