When dealing with substance abuse and drug addiction, it is important to understand the type of drug that a person is addicted to. While commonly used drugs come in a number of different classifications, there are 4 main types of drugs when we talk about the drugs people use and become addicted to. 


This leads us to the question “what are the 4 types of drugs?” We’ll break down each category for you so that you have a better understanding of what the drug is and what it does. 


Different types of drugs are addictive for different reasons and have different type of effects on the body. The reasons a person may begin using and eventually abusing certain types of drugs can differ greatly as well. 

What Are the 4 Types of Drugs? 

Now that we’ve discussed the importance of knowing the difference in drug types, we’ll take a closer look at each of the four types so that friends and loved ones of a person suffering from addiction know what to look out for. 


First on our list of “what are the 4 types of drugs” is stimulants. These are usually easily recognizable because of the effect they have on the body. They are also the most common by far, even above opioids. 


Stimulants often give the appearance of someone having lots of energy when they may otherwise be calm. Stimulants can raise the blood pressure, heart rate, and cause severe symptoms over prolonged use. 


The most common stimulants are caffeine, found in coffee and many beverages, and nicotine, the primary addictive ingredient in tobacco products. More illicit stimulants like speed and ecstasy are less common and are considered illegal drugs. 


Stimulants are highly addictive because they interact with the body’s central nervous system. After prolonged use, the body may become chemically dependent on the substance to function normally. In these cases, medically assisted detoxification is highly recommended to overcome the substance use disorder safely. 



Our second category is incredibly common due to many of them being readily available through prescription. Opioids are commonly used as painkillers. Medications such as Vicodin and oxycontin are frequently prescribed. More illicit opioids like heroin are incredibly dangerous as well. 


There are two main reasons that opioids can become addictive. The misuse of prescription drugs often leads to addiction in an effort to treat prolonged pain from injury or other means. Secondly, opioids produce a kind of euphoric “high” that causes many users pleasure, which they then become addicted to. 


Opioids also interact with the cells in the body similarly to the way stimulants do, with the exception that opioids interact with the opioid (pain) receptors in the body, and over time the body becomes dependent on the substance. 


Third, on the list of drug types is depressants. These are also widely available, with alcohol being the most common. The primary danger with addiction to depressants like alcohol is that they interact with the body’s central nervous system and slow down the functions of the body and brain. 


This leads to a feeling of relaxation and over time, the use lowers one’s inhibitions making them act differently than they normally would. The primary danger of alcohol abuse in particular is the slowed bodily response combined with the damage to the liver and kidneys as a result of prolonged use. 


Other medications can have similar effects if misused, but alcohol is the primary culprit among this type of drug. A person suffering from alcohol abuse requires specific treatment that is different from other drug addiction therapy. 



Hallucinogens are less common than the other three drug types, but the effects can be quite severe. LSD is the most well-known of the different hallucinogens, but all of them work by affecting the brain and altering a person’s perception and mood. 


Hallucinogens increase the production of neurotransmitters in the brain and can lead to severe impairment, violent mood swings, and other odd behavior. The use of hallucinogens can even cause or worsen underlying mental issues. 


In these cases, it is important that the addicted person seek dual diagnosis treatment to treat the addiction and the mental health issues that accompany it. 


When It’s Time to Get Help Come to Grace Recovery 

We know that finding the right treatment for addiction can be difficult and scary. That’s why the trained staff at Grace Recovery focus on treating the individual and not the disease. Our holistic approach to treatment combined with group therapy and other treatment options helps to get patients off of their addictive substances and on the path to a life of wellness. 

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