Types of drugs

Find information about the different types of drugs, including stimulants, party drugs, hallucinogens, depressants, and inhalants.


These drugs increase the activity of the central nervous system. Examples include:

  • Cocaine
  • Caffeine
  • MDMA
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ritalin
  • some new psychoactive drugs (such as mephedrone and synthetic cannabis).

Party drugs

Party drugs is a colloquial term for a group of stimulants and hallucinogens that are used by younger Australians to enhance experiences at large parties, music festivals and clubs.

This group of drugs includes, but is not restricted to, MDMA (methylenedioxyethamphetamine), capsules (‘caps’) and pills such as ecstasy. They may also be known as:

  • pingers
  • E
  • doopa
  • love drug
  • disco biscuits
  • XTC
  • Eccy.

Often pills/tablets/caps may not contain any MDMA at all and may contain a wide range of other substances.

Dozens of Australians become seriously ill or die after using party drugs each year.

Visit the Positive Choices website for detailed information about party drugs.


These drugs typically alter how a person perceives the world by changing the way they see, hear, taste, smell or feel different things. Examples include: 

  • ketamine
  • magic mushrooms
  • LSD.


These drugs reduce the activity in the central nervous system. Examples include: 

  • Alcohol
  • GHB
  • Ketamine
  • Benzodiazepines (such as Valium)
  • Opioids (such as heroin). 


Inhalants, also known as volatile substances or solvents. These substances are sniffed or breathed in through the nose and/or mouth to give the user an immediate high.

There are four main types of inhalants:

  • Volatile solvents – paint thinners and removers, glues, petrol and correction fluid (liquid paper).
  • Aerosol sprays – spray paints, deodorants and hairsprays, fly sprays and vegetable oil sprays.
  • Gases – nitrous oxide (laughing gas), propane, fire extinguishers.
  • Nitrites – room deodorisers and leather cleaners.

The first 3 types of inhalants are depressant drugs. Nitrites generally do not slow down the central nervous system.

For further information about different types of drugs, visit the Drugs A-Z fact sheets on the Positive Choices website.

Date last updated:

Help us improve health.gov.au

If you would like a response please use the enquiries form instead.