Drugs can be classified in many ways including:
- uses (medicinal or recreational)
- effect on the body (i.e. CNS)
- source (synthetic or plant)
- legal status (legal/illegal)
- risk status (dangerous/safe)
The brain is the major part of the CNS, and this is where psycho-active drugs have their main effect.
Classifying drugs by their effect on CNS
- Stimulants - speed up the activity of a CNS which often results in the user feeling more alert and more energetic (e.g. amphetamines, cocaine).
- Depressants - slow down the activity of the CNS, which often results in the user feeling less pain, more relaxed and sleepy (e.g. alcohol, major tranquillisers).
- Hallucinogens - have the ability to alter a user's sensory perceptions by distorting the messages carried in the CNS (e.g. LSD and kava).
- Others - include psycho-active drugs that do not fit neatly into one of the other categories (e.g. anti-depressants such as Zoloft and mood stabilisers such as Lithium)