Abuse Drugs—Use and Addiction - Five Categories Of Substances

swallowed injected smoked loss

Drugs may be classified into five categories:

  • Depressants, including alcohol and tranquilizers: These substances slow down the activity of the nervous system. They produce sedative (calming) and hypnotic (trancelike) effects as well as drowsiness. If taken in large doses, depressants can cause intoxication (drunkenness).
  • Hallucinogens, including marijuana, PCP (phencyclidine), and LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide): Hallu-cinogens produce abnormal and unreal sensations such as seeing distorted and vividly colored images. Hallucinogens also can produce frightening psychological responses such as anxiety, depression, and the feeling of losing control of one's mind.
  • Narcotics, including heroin and opium, from which morphine and codeine are derived: Narcotics are drugs that alter the perception of pain and induce sleep and euphoria (an intense feeling of well-being; a "high").
  • Stimulants, including caffeine, nicotine, cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines: These substances speed up the processing rate of the central nervous system. They can reduce fatigue, elevate mood, increase energy, and help people stay awake. In large doses, stimulants can cause irritability, anxiety, TABLE 1.1
    Commonly abused drugs
    category and name
    Examples of commercial
    and street names
    DEA schedulea/how
    Intoxication effects/potential
    health consequences
    Alcohol Beer, wine, hard liquor Not scheduled/swallowed Reduced anxiety; feeling of well-being; lowered inhibitions; slowed pulse and breathing; lowered blood pressure; poor concentration/fatigue; confusion; impaired coordination, memory, judgment; addiction; respiratory depression and arrest, death
    Barbiturates Amytal, Nembutal, Seconal, Phenobarbital; barbs, reds, red birds, phennies, tooies, yellows, yellow jackets II, III, V/injected, swallowed Also, for barbiturates—sedation, drowsiness/depression, unusual excitement, fever, irritability, poor judgment, slurred speech, dizziness, life-threatening withdrawal.
    Benzodiazepines (other than flunitrazepam) Ativan, Halcion, Librium, Valium, Xanax; candy, downers, sleeping pills, tranks IV/swallowed, injected For benzodiazepines—sedation, drowsiness/dizziness
    Flunitrazepamc Rohypnol; forget-me pill, Mexican Valium, R2, Roche, roofies, roofinol, rope, rophies IV/swallowed, snorted For flunitrazepam—visual and gastrointestinal disturbances, urinary retention, memory loss for the time under the drug's effects
    GHBc gamma-hydroxybutyrate; G, Georgia home boy, grievous bodily harm, liquid ecstasy I/swallowed For GHB—drowsiness, nausea/vomiting, headache, loss of consciousness, loss of reflexes, seizures, coma, death
    Methaqualone Quaalude, Sopor, Parest; ludes, mandex, quad, quay I/injected, swallowed For methaqualone—euphoria/depression, poor reflexes, slurred speech, coma
    Cannabinoids (hallucinogens)
    Hashish Boom, chronic, gangster, hash, hash oil, hemp I/swallowed, smoked Euphoria, slowed thinking and reaction time, confusion, impaired balance and coordination/cough, frequent respiratory infections; impaired memory and learning; increased heart rate, anxiety; panic attacks; tolerance, addiction
    Marijuana Blunt, dope, ganja, grass, herb, joints, Mary Jane, pot, reefer sinsemilla, skunk, weed I/swallowed, smoked Increased heart rate and blood pressure, impaired motor function/memory loss; numbness; nausea/vomiting
    Dissociative anesthetics (hallucinogens)
    Ketamine Ketalar SV; cat Valiums, K, Special K, vitamin K III/injected, snorted, smoked Also, for ketamine—at high doses, delirium, depression, respiratory depression and arrest
    PCP and analogs phencyclidine; angel dust, boat, hog, love boat, peace pill I, II/injected, swallowed, smoked For PCP and analogs—possible decrease in blood pressure and heart rate, panic, aggression, violence/loss of appetite, depression
    Hallucinogens Altered states of perception and feeling; nausea; persisting perception disorder (flashbacks)
    LSD Lysergic acid diethylamide; acid, blotter, boomers, cubes, microdot, yellow I/swallowed, absorbed through mouth tissues Also, for LSD and mescaline—increased body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure; loss of appetite, sleeplessness, numbness, weakness, tremors
    Mescaline Buttons, cactus, mesc, peyote I/swallowed, smoked For LSD—persistent mental disorders
    Psilocybin Magic mushroom, purple passion, shrooms I/swallowed For psilocybin—nervousness, paranoia
    Opioids and morphine derivatives (narcotics)
    Codeine Empirin with Codeine, Fiorinal with Codeine, Robitussin A-C, Tylenol with Codeine; Captain Cody, Cody, schoolboy; (with glutethimide) doors & fours, loads, pancakes and syrup II, III, IV/injected, swallowed Pain relief, euphoria, drowsiness/nausea, constipation, confusion, sedation, respiratory depression and arrest, tolerance, addiction, unconsciousness, coma, death
    Fentanyl and fentanyl analogs Actiq, Duragesic, Sublimaze; Apache, China girl, China white, dance fever, friend, goodfella, jackpot, murder 8, TNT, Tango and Cash I, II/injected smoked, snorted Also, for codeine—less analgesia, sedation, and respiratory depression than morphine
    Heroin Diacetylmorphine; brown sugar, dope, H, horse, junk, skag, skunk, smack, white horse I/injected smoked, snorted For heroin—staggering gait
    Morphine Roxanol, Duramorph; M, Miss Emma, monkey, white stuff II, III/injected, swallowed, smoked
    Opium Laudanum, paregoric; big O, black stuff, block, gum, hop II, III, V/swallowed, smoked
    Oxycodone HCL Oxycontin; Oxy, O.C., killer II/swallowed, snorted, injected
    Hydrocodone bitartrate, acetaminophen Vicodin; vike, Watson-387 II/swallowed
    sleeplessness, and even psychotic behavior. Caffeine is the most commonly used stimulant in the world.
  • Other compounds, including anabolic steroids and inhalants: Anabolic steroids are a group of synthetic substances that are chemically related to testoster-one and are promoted for their muscle-building properties. Inhalants are solvents and aerosol products that produce vapors having psychoactive effects. These substances dull pain and can produce euphoria.

Table 1.1 provides an overview of alcohol, nicotine, and selected other psychoactive substances. TABLE 1.1
Commonly abused drugs
SOURCE: Adapted from "Commonly Abused Drugs," National Institute on Drug Abuse, http://www.nida.nih.gov/DrugPages/DrugsofAbuse.html (accessed February 3, 2005)

category and name
Examples ofcommercial
and street names
DEA schedulea/how
Intoxication effects/potential
health consequences
Stimulants Increased heart rate, blood pressure, metabolism; feelings of exhilaration, energy, increased mental alertness/rapid or irregular heart beat; reduce appetite, weight loss, heart failure, nervousness, insomnia
Amphetamine Biphetamine, Dexedrine; bennies, black beauties, crosses, hearts, LA turnaround, speed, truck drivers, uppers II/injected, swallowed, smoked, snorted Also, for amphetamine—rapid breathing/tremor, loss of coordination; irritability, anxiousness, restlessness, delirium, panic, paranoia, impulsive behavior, aggressiveness, tolerance, addiction, psychosis
Cocaine Cocaine hydrochloride; blow, bump, C, candy, Charlie, coke, crack, flake, rock, snow, toot II/injected, smoked, snorted For cocaine—increased temperature/chest pain, respiratory failure, nausea, abdominal pain, strokes, seizures, headaches, malnutrition, panic attacks
MDMA (methylenedioxy-methamphetamine) Adam, clarity, ecstasy, Eve, lover's speed, peace, STP, X, XTC I/swallowed For MDMA—mild hallucinogenic effects, increased tactile sensitivity, empathic feelings/impaired memory and learning, hyperthermia, cardiac toxicity, renal failure, liver toxicity
Methamphetamine Desoxyn; chalk, crank, crystal, fire, glass, go fast, ice, meth, speed II/injected, swallowed, smoked, snorted For methamphetamine—aggression, violence, psychotic behavior/memory loss, cardiac and neurological damage; impaired memory and learning, tolerance, addiction
Methylphenidate (safe and effective for treatment of ADHD) Ritalin; JIF, MPH, R-ball, Skippy, the smart drug, vitamin R II/injected, swallowed, snorted
Nicotine Cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, snuff, spit tobacco, bidis, chew Not scheduled/smoked, snorted, taken in snuff and spit For nicotine—additional effects attributable to tobacco exposure, adverse pregnancy outcomes, chronic lung disease, cardiovascular, chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, tolerance, addiction
Other compounds
Anabolic steroids Anadrol, Oxandrin, Durabolin, Depo-Testosterone, Equipoise; roids, juice III/injected, swallowed, applied to skin No intoxication effects/hypertension, blood clotting and cholesterol changes, lives cysts and cancer, kidney cancer, hostility and aggression, acne; in adolescents, premature stoppage of growth; in males, prostate cancer, reduced sperm production, shrunken testicles, breast enlargement; in females, menstrual irregularities, development of beard and other masculine characteristics
Inhalants Solvents (paint thinners, gasoline, glues), gases (butane, propane, aerosol propellants, nitrous oxide), nitrites (isoamyl, isobutyl, cyclohexyl); laughing gas, poppers, snappers, whippets Not scheduled/inhaled through nose or mouth Stimulation, loss of inhibition; headache; nausea or vomiting; slurred speech, loss of motor coordination; wheezing/unconsciousness, cramps, weight loss, muscle weakness, depression, memory impairment, damage to cardiovascular and nervous systems, sudden death
aSchedule I and II drugs, have a high potential for abuse. They require greater storage security and have a quota on manufacturing, among other restrictions. Schedule I drugs are available for research only and have no approved medical use; schedule II drugs are available only by prescription (unrefillable) and require a form for ordering. Schedule III and IV drugs are available by prescription, may have five refills in 6 months, and may be ordered orally. Most schedule V drugs are available over the counter.
bTaking drugs by injection can increase the risk of infection through needle contamination with staphylococci, HIV, hepatitis, and other organisms.
cAssociated with sexual assaults.

It includes the DEA schedule for each drug listed. The DEA drug schedules are categories into which controlled substances are placed depending on their characteristics. The types of drugs categorized in each of the five schedules, with examples, are shown in Table 1.2.

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