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What Are The 4 Drug Groups?

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Each recreational drug can be broken down into one of four major categories.

Whether someone is for or against the use of recreational drugs, it’s important to know the facts before making a decision or using judgement.

Think about it: hundreds of drugs exist in the universe right now…and some of us can’t name ten of them. Drugs are often categorized into one huge pool – when in reality, they can actually be separated into four small puddles.


The Main Types of Drugs

All of the drugs out there all roughly fit into one of four major groups: stimulants, opium-related painkillers, hallucinogens, and depressants. The category a drug falls in is primarily based on its effects.

While some drugs may not fit exactly in any of the groups, these categories are currently the clearest and most accurate way to separate them. Here’s a little more about each of the four:



Otherwise known as “uppers,” stimulants are designed to increase activity in the body. They make the user feel energetic, alert, talkative, and active. Types of stimulants include:

  • Cocaine
  • Meth
  • Crack
  • Amphetamine
  • And more

These types of drugs are mainly used for recreational purposes. They are extremely addictive and can cause schizophrenic symptoms such as psychosis and paranoia.


Opium-Related Painkillers

Opioids cover a wide range, from prescription painkillers to notorious narcotics. Examples include:

  • Heroin
  • Opium
  • Codeine
  • Oxycodone
  • Fentanyl

While they were created to treat pain, some opium-related painkillers are used solely for recreational purposes and to reach a high. These types of drugs can cause a rush of pleasure, a dreamy state, and a sense of drowsiness; they can be highly dangerous and addictive.



These are probably the easiest group to explain — simply put, hallucinogens cause hallucinations; but they also do a lot more than that. Some other hallucinogen effects include:

  • Detachment
  • Mood swings
  • Altered sense of space & time
  • Illusions
  • Sense of insight
  • Mystical & religious experiences

LSD, DMT, and PCP are a few of the drugs that fall in this group and cause the above effects. While hallucinogens are not as addictive as drugs in other groups, they are aggressive and can cause undesirable experiences.



In opposition to stimulants, depressants are known as “downers.” Not because they make you feel sad, necessarily, but because they help people calm down and let loose. These types of drugs may cause:

  • Sleep and drowsiness
  • Relaxed or mellow state
  • Possible adverse effects: anxiety & aggression
  • Addiction

Alcohol and benzodiazepines are the two most common examples from this group, and are encouraged to be used in moderation.


An Overview on Recreational Drugs

If you are ever learning about a new type of drug, consider what category it might fall into. Dividing your findings into groups will help you discover more about its purpose, effects, and possible dangers.

Having information about different types of drugs will not only make you knowledgeable about a scientific topic, but it can also help prepare people to make responsible decisions if ever faced with a drug they are not immediately familiar with.

To learn more about the different kinds of drugs and their respective groups, contact our team of medical professionals here or give us a call at 267.719.8689.


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