This opposite side of a stimulant is another

This lesson will describe the six major classes of psychoactive drugs, give examples of substances in each class, and explain what they cause a person to experience in the short-term and the long-term.

The Different Classes of Drugs

A roller coaster ride is exciting, while the news tends to be depressing. There are feel-good movies, and there are some you wish you had never seen. Excitement, depression, euphoria, and seeing things you’d rather not have are also aspects of the six different classes of psychoactive drugs and their effects we’re about to cover.

Stimulants, Depressants, & Cannabis

The first kind of psychoactive drug is known as a stimulant. A stimulant is a type of psychoactive drug that stimulates the activity of the central nervous system. What this means in the real world is that people who take stimulants may experience an increased heart rate, mental alertness, and blood pressure, in addition to insomnia, nervousness, and much more. In short, a stimulant causes you to become very excited. But over-excitement is possible, and this can result in irritability, panic, and paranoia. Examples of central nervous system stimulants include amphetamine, cocaine, nicotine, MDMA (also known as ecstasy), and methylphenidate (or Ritalin).

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On the opposite side of a stimulant is another obvious term, a depressant. This is a kind of psychoactive drug that sedates the user, meaning it slows down central nervous system function. This makes a person feel less anxious and drowsier. But it also causes slurred speech, reduced concentration and reflexes, and may even result in life-threatening respiratory depression and unconsciousness. Examples of central nervous system depressants include alcohol, barbiturates, GHB, methaqualone, benzodiazepines (like Valium), and Flunitrazepam (or roofies).

Cannabis drugs, marijuana and hashish, is a drug category that has some mild effects attributed typically to both stimulants and depressants. In the short-term, cannabis use results in an increased heart rate, blood pressure, and appetite. It also produces a slow reaction time, depression, and problems with memory, learning, and problem solving. In the long run, marijuana use has been linked to bronchitis, emphysema, constant respiratory infections, birth defects, and lung cancer.

Hallucinogens, Narcotics, and Inhalants

Another class of psychoactive drug is known as a hallucinogen. A hallucinogen makes you see, hear, and feel things you may wish to ‘un-see’ later, like a bad movie.

More formally, a hallucinogen is a type of drug that distorts reality. Famous types of hallucinogens are LSD (also known as acid), psilocybin (mushrooms), ketamine (special K), PCP (angel dust), and mescaline (or peyote).Other than distortions of reality, hallucinogens can have some other ramifications. Hallucinogens can increase a person’s body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.

They may also cause tremors, paranoia, and weakness. What’s scarier than some of the hallucinations is that a person may have serious health consequences from a hallucinogen’s use, including depression, memory loss, and flashbacks after the drug’s effects have worn off. I told you, like a bad move, some things may not be unseen!A further class of drug is referred to as a narcotic, or an opioid, a drug that relieves pain. Because these narcotics, or opioids, are so good at relieving pain, they are some of the most dependence-producing drugs out there.

Other than relieving pain, opioids also relieve anxiety and may induce sleep. But they cause problems like confusion, lethargy, constipation, nausea, and may cause a coma and death when used improperly. Well-known types of opioids include heroin, opium, morphine, and oxycodone.And finally, the sixth type of psychoactive drug category includes inhalants.

An inhalant is a drug containing volatile substances that once inhaled has mind-altering capabilities. Commonly, these inhalant drugs aren’t things that were ever intended to be used as a mind-altering substance. I think you catch my drift here. Paint thinner, gasoline, propane, laughing gas, and glues are all great examples of this.

Depending on exactly which household item is used here it can cause all sorts of strange effects, ranging from stimulation to loss of coordination to hallucination and delusions. In the long run, the heart and nervous system may be damaged beyond repair.

Lesson Summary

In this lesson, we went over six major classes of psychoactive drugs. A stimulant is a type of psychoactive drug that stimulates the activity of the central nervous system, meaning a stimulant may raise the blood pressure and cause panic. Examples of central nervous system stimulants include amphetamine, cocaine, nicotine, MDMA (also known as ecstasy), and methylphenidate (also known as Ritalin).In opposition to a stimulant is a depressant.

This is a kind of psychoactive drug that sedates the user. It can cause someone a feeling of drowsiness and may cause respiratory depression. Examples of central nervous system depressants include alcohol, barbiturates, GHB, methaqualone, benzodiazepines (like Valium), and Flunitrazepam (or roofies). Cannabis drugs, marijuana and hashish, is a drug category that, like stimulants, may cause increased heart rate and blood pressure, but may also slow reaction time.We also went over what a hallucinogen is.

A hallucinogen is a type of drug that distorts reality. This refers to the fact that hallucinogens may cause you to hear, see, or feel things that aren’t really there. Famous types of hallucinogens are LSD (acid), psilocybin (mushrooms), ketamine (called special K), PCP (also known as angel dust), and mescaline (or peyote). A further class of drug is referred to as a narcotic, or an opioid, a drug that relieves pain. Well-known types of opioids include heroin, opium, morphine, and oxycodone.

And finally, we discussed what an inhalant is. This is a drug that contains volatile substances that once inhaled has mind-altering capabilities. Paint thinner, gasoline, propane, laughing gas, and glues are all great examples of this. They can stimulate and cause hallucinations, depending on the substance, and may result in brain damage.

Learning Outcomes

After you have finished with this lesson, you could display the ability to:

  • Describe the general effects of stimulants, depressants, cannabis drugs, hallucinogens, narcotics and inhalants
  • Provide examples of each of these classifications of drugs
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