Types of drugs: know their characteristics and effects

Although drug use is often associated with younger people, psychoactive substances are used by people of very different profiles and different ages.

The uses of different types of drugs are very varied and tell us about the versatility of this class of substances. Since the psychoactive substances consumed millennia ago were contemporary synthetic drugs, the vast repertoire of the effects of drugs has led to their use in many contexts.

A little history on drugs

Man, since his creation, has always consumed substances that have affected his nervous system. In fact, it is known that around 3000 BC, some opiates were already in use.

In addition, some data shows that at that time in Asia hemp was already consumed. In America, coca leaves were used as a pain reliever, and on this same continent, the Aztecs used certain mushrooms such as peyote. Certain types of hallucinogenic drugs have also been used in rituals related to shamanism and polytheistic religions, so hallucinations have been interpreted as forms in which alternate planes of existence have become part of the environment that can be experienced.

Medicines: different uses and effects

The drug is a natural or artificial substance that impairs physical performance, perception, mood and behavior. of the individual who consumes it. These effects on people can be very varied and these substances can have different uses, which means that there are different types of drugs. Of course, we’ve all heard of LSD or cocaine, drugs with very different effects, but both widely used and known for decades.

Currently, new drugs have gained popularity and some have jumped into the mediaBecause, although they are types of recreational drugs, they produce both peculiar and dangerous effects: bath salts, known as the cannibal drug, or Flakka, also known as the “Hulk drug”, are just a few examples.

There are even drugs that have different functions, such as GHB. This drug, which is used as a drug for the treatment of narcolepsy (under the trade name Xyrem), also has recreational use and, unbelievably as it sounds, is used by rapists to incapacitate their victims, as well as the ‘ Burundanga. Indeed, depending on the context in which the drugs are used, they may have different uses; after all, these types of substances not only have one concrete effect, but several.

If you are not yet familiar with these drugs, you had better read the following articles:

  • “GHB”: the drug used by rapists to neutralize their victims

  • Burundanga, the drug capable of overriding your willpower

The difference between a drug, a drug, an active ingredient and a drug

In the specialized literature, it is possible that we find the word drug and path used indiscriminately. While these terms can be confusing, it gets even worse when we add the concepts of active ingredient or drug. You can find different explanations of these terms in different (even trade) journals, but in this article we have focused on the explanation of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The word drug refers to any chemical capable of altering consciousness, perception, mood and behavior. The conditions to be met for a substance to be classified as a drug are as follows:

  • When these substances are introduced into the body, they modify one or more psychic functions (For example, feeling euphoric).
  • They make the person who uses it want to repeat its useAs they have a powerful effect on the strengthening brain region.
  • When the individual stops taking it, they may experience great discomfort.
  • They have no medical application, And if they have it, it can be used for non-therapeutic purposes.

While some authors use the term drug to refer to any drug, others also use it to refer to drugs. The drug, unlike drugs, has therapeutic use.

The active ingredient refers to the chemical that produces the effect on the body. In the case of drug ecstasy, the active ingredient would be the chemical MDMA. There are drugs that combine different active ingredients and sometimes there can be drugs that even use excipients.

How drugs are classified

The types of drugs can be classified in different ways: according to whether they are legal or illegal, according to their routes of use, according to their effects on the nervous system. Let’s see how they are classified to know a little better about the different types of psychoactive substances..

Legal or illegal drugs

The term legal or illegal drug has to do with the legislation of the country where the substance is consumed. The term illegal refers to the fact that its use is not permitted by the laws of that country. And although the own consumption of certain illicit substances is sometimes authorized, the sale is punishable by severe administrative and / or criminal penalties.

Legal drugs are allowed, and its use generally has an economic purpose. For example, taxes collected with tobacco or alcohol.

It may happen that the law of one country allows the consumption and sale of a drug prohibited in another country, as in the case of marijuana, which is allowed in the Netherlands but not in Spain.

Classification according to their mode of consumption

Since the variety of drugs is very wide, depending on how they are taken, they can be classified in different ways:

  • Smoking: Hashish, marijuana, heroin, “crack”
  • orally: Synthetic drugs, alcohol
  • Inspired: Cocaine, speed (amphetamine sulfate)
  • inhaled: Cola
  • injected: heroine

Classification according to its effect on the nervous system

Drugs can also be classified according to their effect on the nervous system:

Nervous system depressants

  • Alcohol
  • Hypnotics: sleeping pills and barbiturates
  • Anxiolytics: benzodiazepines
  • Opiates: heroin, morphine, codeine and methadone
  • tranquilizers
  • inhalants

Nervous system stimulants

  • amphetamines
  • nicotine
  • Cocaine and other derivatives
  • Xanthines: caffeine theobromine

Psychedelic or disturbing substances

  • Hallucinogens: LSD, mescaline …
  • Cannabinoids: hashish, marijuana …
  • Ecstasy, ketamine

Some considerations on the routes of consumption

The faster the substance consumed passes into the blood, the more generally the effects are rapid and intense. However, this does not mean that the types of drugs injected have worse effects than others; it should be remembered that some may be beneficial in clinical settings under the control of a physician.

On its effects

Finally, it should be borne in mind that although the mechanisms of action of many types of drugs are fairly well known and their use may be associated with the appearance of highly relevant symptoms which deteriorate the quality of life of patients. people, it is also true that in practice it is difficult to determine whether a certain psychological or neurological phenomenon is caused only by the administration of these substances.

After all, it is very common for those who use the most drugs to have a history of mental disorders (favored by a mixture of genetic predispositions and contextual factors), so that in many cases what happens after consumption is multicasual., The result of these latent problems in interaction with the neurobiological changes produced in the nervous system after the introduction of a certain component into the body.

Bibliographical references:

  • Crocq MA (June 2003). “Alcohol, Nicotine, Caffeine, and Mental Disorders.” Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 5 (2): pages 175 to 185.
  • Bloomquist, E. (1971). Marijuana: the second trip. California: Glencoe.
  • Lingeman, RR (1974). Drugs from AZ: A Dictionary. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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