We have been spreading information regarding drug addiction on all our Treatment Rehabilitation Karachi social media platforms through videos, articles and blogs. According to the definition of addiction; it is a chronic, relapsing, brain disease. What does this mean? Let us explain you about relapse and chronic brain disease. Before that lets look at what drugs are.


According to American Psychiatric Association, drug and alcohol addiction falls under the classification of “Substance Use Disorders”. Substance is something (other than water and food), which when enters the body, bring changes in the living being, psychologically and/or physiologically. Generally, drugs and medicines fall under the category of substances. Drugs may include psychoactive and illicit drugs.

A psychoactive drug is a chemical substance which causes changes in the functions of Brain Disease. It causes cognitive changes in the Brain Disease. Psychoactive drugs include the illegal drugs, recreational drugs, some medicines, alcohol and some plants.

Illicit drugs are highly addictive drugs and they act upon the nervous system. They can stimulate or inhibit the nervous system or can cause hallucinations. Illicit drugs can be legal or illegal. Those chemicals which are illegal to buy, sell, produce or use comes under this classification. Those legal medicinal drugs which are used for non-medical purposes also falls under the illicit drugs category.

Classification of drugs  

Drugs can be classified in many ways. One drug can be placed in two categories according to its characteristics. One drug may have multiple uses. Drugs are chemicals, similar to chemicals present in our Brains known as neurotransmitters. Drugs have side effects which could be lethal and deadly too.

General substance abuse drug categories:

Substance abuse drugs are of several types.

  • Gateway Drugs
  • Depressant Drugs
  • Stimulant Drugs
  • Narcotics
  • Hallucinogens
  • Inhalants

Gateway drugs:

Milder drugs, which a person use as recreation or with friends for the first time. These are the introductory drugs. These drugs lead towards more severe and dangerous drugs. They are the starters, habit formers. By using them again and again, a person becomes accustomed him/herself to drug abuse treatments. This leads toward addiction.

  • Cigarettes/Tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Nicotine
  • Caffeine
  • Bhang
  • Naswar
  • Gutka

Depressant Drugs:

These upon entering the body, slows down the functions of the Brain Disease. It acts as sedative. They are also known as “Downers”. They are used medically to treat anxiety disorders and insomnia. They induce sleep and relaxation. They calm down the nervous system and body.

  • Alcohol
  • Tranquilizers
  • Heroin
  • Cannabis
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Inhalants
  • Ketamine
  • GHB (Illicit drug)

Stimulant Drugs:

These are also known as “Uppers”. They increase the activity of the central nervous system. They are performance enhancing and recreational drugs. They are used for treating mood disorders, obesity, impulse control disorder and asthma.

  • Amphetamine
  • Caffeine
  • MDMA
  • Methamphetamine
  • Cocaine
  • Nicotine
  • Ritalin
  • Crack Cocaine


These include the pain killers made up of opium, and its derivatives. These are analgesics and cause sleep, dizziness and addiction. They may also cause elation (happiness/excitement). These are most common drugs of abuse. Opioids are antagonists, agonists and mixture of both.

  • Opium
  • Morphine
  • Opioids (synthetics)
  • Heroine
  • Codeine
  • Demerol
  • Methadone
  • Darvon


These drugs produce hallucinations (to see, feel, smell and hear things which are not there) and mood swings. They distort reality. They are made from plants, mushrooms and, as well as produced synthetically in the labs. Hallucinogens include classic hallucinogens and dissociative drugs. They are also known as alkaloids as they contain nitrogen.

  • Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)
  • Psilocybin (Shrooms)
  • Ayahuasca
  • Dimethyltryptamine/Dimitri (DMT)
  • Marijuana/THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)
  • Mescaline (Peyote: cactus)
  • PCP
  • MDMA (Ecstasy)


Inhalants is a broad category of different substances easily found in our homes. They are industrial chemicals. They produce effects like alcohol. Children are more prone to addiction of these chemicals and substances as they are easily available. They are called as inhalants because they are inhaled through nose or breathed in through mouth. They are dangerous for health when inhaled as they contain toxic chemicals.

  • Paint and paint thinners
  • Gasoline
  • Sprays
  • Plastic cement
  • Glues
  • Cleaning fluids
  • Air conditioner fluids
  • Acetone
  • Benzene
  • Amylnitrate
  • Aerosols

Drugs classification by chemical composition

Based on the chemical makeup, drugs can be classified as follows.

Alcohol: distilled & undistilled

Alcohol is of four types namely Ethyl, Isopropyl, Rubbing, Denatured. Ethyl alcohol known as ethanol is used for drinking. Alcohol is also known as spirit and liquor. Distilled alcoholic drinks are spirits or hard liquor. Drinking alcohols are made up of different ingredients including ethanol, water, yeast, different grains (wheat, corn, rye, rice), fruits, plants, sugarcane, potatoes, sugar, herbs, leaves, spices, honey and oils by a process called fermentation.

Undistilled alcoholic drinks:

  • Beer
  • Hard cider
  • Sake
  • Mead
  • Wine (red, white, champagne) & Port Wine

Distilled alcohol drinks:

  • Brandy
  • Rum
  • Vodka
  • Whiskey
  • Gin
  • Tequila
  • Bitters
  • Vermouth
  • Cognac
  • Absinthe
  • Everclear


They are extracted from opium poppy plant. They can be semi-synthetically created in laboratories too. Many other drugs are made from opium. Opium and its derivatives are called as opioids. Most of the pain killer medicines are made up of opioids. They can be legal or illegal drugs. They are highly addictive and lethal drugs. Opioids are of three types; natural opiates (alkaloids), semi-synthetic opiates, fully synthetic opiates.

Natural Alkaloids:

  • Thebaine (paramorphine)
  • Codeine
  • Morphine


  • Heroin
  • Hydromorphone
  • Oxycodone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Hydrocodone

Fully synthetic:

  • Fentanyl
  • Pethidine
  • Levorphanol
  • Methadone
  • Tramadol
  • Dextropropoxyphene
  • Buprenorphine


Benzodiazepines, commonly called as “BENZOS” are prescription medicines used for slowing down the activity of nervous system. They are used for treating different medical conditions such as insomnia, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, muscle relaxation, vomiting, seizers, epilepsy, restless leg syndrome, tic disorder and alcohol withdrawal. They are prescribed for short time only by the doctors as their long-term use is not good for health. They are of three types depending on the duration of acting in the Brain Disease.

Short acting:

  • Brotizolam (Dormex)
  • Midazolam (Versed/Hypnovel)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)

Intermediate acting:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Bromazepam (Lexotan)
  • Clobazam (Urbanol)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Estazolam (ProSom)
  • Flunitrazepam: Date-rape-drug (Rohypnol)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin/Revotril)
  • Lormetazepam (Loramet/Dormagen)
  • Nitrazepam (Alodorm/Mogadon)
  • Temazepam (Restoril)
  • Oxazepam (Serax)

Long acting:

  • Diazepam (Valium/Ducene/Dialar)
  • Clorazepate (Tranxene)
  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium/Tropium)
  • Flurazepam (Dalmane)

Cannabinoids are composites of the plant Cannabis Sativa. They can also be prepared artificially in laboratories. There are several sub classes of cannabinoids namely,

  • Cannabigerols (CBG)
  • Cannabichromenes (CBC)
  • Cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
  • Cannabinol (CBN)
  • Cannabinodiol (CBDL)
  • Other cannabinoids including cannabicyclol (CBL), cannabielsoin (CBE) and cannabitriol (CBT).

The two main cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) responsible for the most of the psychoactive effects of the drugs.

Cannabinoids are used for treating different medical conditions such as pain, inflammation, cancer, mental illnesses, epilepsy, some neurological disorders and also in treatment of some addictions.

Most common cannabinoids are:

  • Cannabis
  • Medical Cannabis
  • Hash
  • Marijuana

Barbiturates are synthetically produced drugs from a chemical known as “Barbituric Acid”. They can only be bought with doctor’s prescription. They are of two types; class A and class B. Class A barbiturates are in form of injections. Class B barbiturate drugs are available in form of tablets, capsules, elixir, solution and suspension. Barbiturates slows down the nervous system. They were used for treatment of psychiatric disorders and as anesthesia. They have a high tendency for addiction and overdose. Most of the barbiturate drugs are replaced by benzodiazepines for safety reasons.

Barbs, barbies, blue bullets, blue devils, gorillas, nembies, pink ladies, red devils and sleepers are street names of barbiturates. Most common barbiturates are:

  • Amobarbital (Amytal/ Sodium Amytal)
  • Butabarbital (Butisol)
  • Pentobarbital (Nembutal/Luminal)
  • Secobarbital (Seconal)
  • Belladonna and phenobarbital (Donnatal)
  • Butalbital/acetaminophen/caffeine (Esgic, Fioricet)
  • Butalbital/aspirin/caffeine (Fiorinal Ascomp, Fortabs)
  • Soneryl
  • Tuinal

We will continue further classification and their effects on central nervous system in another blog. If you have any queries feel free to contact us at 0341-1959599 or visit PRC Clifton Karachi.

Scroll to Top