Drug class: Specific drugs: Mechanism: Major effects: Side effects: Any medical use:
Subgroup: Examples:
Sedatives Benzodiazepines Diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), temazepam (Restoril), flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), triazolam (Halcion), alprazolam (Xanax) Agonist at benzodiazepine site on the GABA-A receptor Calm, relaxed muscles, sleepy Drowsiness, falls, impaired coordination, impaired memory, dizziness Anxiety, insomnia, epilepsy, many other diseases
Benzodiazepine agonists Zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), zopiclone, zaleplon (Sonata) Same as above Mainly just sleepy, sometimes hallucinations and sleep-like states Same as benzodiazepines Insomnia
Barbiturates Phenobarbital, pentobarbital, thiopental (sodium pentothal, sodium amytal), secobarbital Agonist at barbiturate site on the GABA-A receptor Calm, euphoric, sleepy Same as benzodiazepines, plus breathing suppressed, terrible withdrawal, death Epilepsy, other diseases in the past and more rarely today
Alcohol Opens BK potassium channels (hyperpolarizing neurons), closes SK potassium channels in reward center of brain (causing DA release), probably other effects Calm, euphoric, loss of inhibitions (facilitates socializing, talking, singing, sex), relaxed Same as benzodiazepines, plus nausea, vomiting, breathing suppressed, terrible withdrawal (including psychosis and seizures), brain damage, various diseases, death Alcohol withdrawal
Gammahydroxybutyrate (GHB), GBL, 1,4-butanediol Agonist at GHB receptor (may desensitize it or inhibit GABA), agonist at GABA-B receptor Euphoric, energetic, sleepy, calm (mix of stimulant and sedative effects) Same as benzodiazepines, plus nausea, vomiting, breathing suppressed, psychosis, seizures, death Narcolepsy (improves cataplexy, not simply a sleep aid)
Stimulants Amphetamines Amphetamine (Adderall), methamphetamine (Desoxyn), methylphenidate (Ritalin), phentermine, 4-methylaminorex, phenmetrazine (Preludin), methcathinone, fenfluramine (Pondimin, Fen-Phen), dexfenfluramine (Redux), pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), ephedrine, phenylpropanolamine (old Triaminic), phenylephrine (Sudafed PE) Increase release and inhibit reuptake of 5-HT, DA, and NE. Euphoric, energetic, able to work, concentrate, stay awake. Reduces appetite. Anxiety, paranoia, psychosis, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, brain damage when used excessively ADHD, narcolepsy, obesity, rarely depression
MDMA (ecstasy), MDA, MDEA Like above, but releases a lot more 5-HT Euphoric, energetic, deep and unusual thoughts, perceived inspiration and novelty, enhances sex, dancing, music, art, touch and senses. Contentment. Connection to other people, strong emotions. Same as amphetamine, plus brain damage, confusion, agitation, frequently death due to hyperthermia, heart attack, water intoxication, and other problems. None
Cocaine Inhibits 5-HT, NE, and DA reuptake, blocks voltage-gated sodium channels Same as amphetamine (above) Same as amphetamine, plus a worse risk of heart attack Local anesthesia and bleeding control, diagnostic tests
Narcotics Full opioid agonists Morphine, heroin (diacetylmorphine), hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (Percocet, Oxycontin), fentanyl, Demerol, codeine, opium, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), oxymorphone (Opana), methadone Activate all opioid receptors completely. Reduce NE release. Euphoric, pain relief, calm, relaxed, sleepy, appetite suppression Nausea, constipation, vomiting, drowsiness, breathing suppressed Pain relief, rarely depression and diarrhea
Partial, selective, or mixed opioid agonists Buprenorphine (Suboxone), pentazocine, nalbuphine, tramadol (Ultram), tifluadom Only activate certain subtypes of opioid receptors, and/or do not activate them fully, and/or block certain subtypes. Pain relief, not quite as euphoric or relaxing as full agonists (above) Nausea, constipation, vomiting, drowsiness Pain relief, rarely depression, opioid addiction
Cannabis Active ingredient is mostly tetrahydrocannabinol, some other active ingredients like cannabidiol in smaller quantities Agonist at cannabinoid receptors Unusual thoughts and feelings, sometimes calm, happy, hungry, enhanced appreciation of art Memory, thinking, reflexes, and coordination are impaired. May contribute to psychosis in the long term. Might relieve nausea, vomiting, and neuropathic pain. Pills already legal, other forms under investigation.
Psychedelics Phenethylamines Mescaline (peyote cactus), 2C-series drugs (2C-B, 2C-I, 2C-C, 2C-T-7), 3C-E, 4-MTA, PMA, DO-series drugs (DOC, DOB, DOI, DOM) Partial agonist at 5-HT2 receptors (2A and possibly 2C). This receptor is mostly excitatory, but it is inhibitory in certain parts of the brain dealing with perception. Feeling of novelty, inspiration, reverence. Fast, disordered thoughts, trances. Perceptual anomalies: patterns move, colors brighter, seeing sounds, smelling colors. Crazy ideas and beliefs. Anxiety, insomnia, paranoia, temporary psychosis. May contribute to psychosis in the long term, or cause "flashbacks" (HPPD). Some cause nausea, increased body temperature, tremors. None
Tryptamines Psilocybin and psilocin (both in mushrooms), bufotenin (in toads), DMT (in plants), 5-MeO-DMT (in plants), 5-MeO-DiPT, DET, AMT, 4-HO-DiPT Psilocybin and LSD have been tested for the treatment of cluster headaches
Ergolines Lysergic acid diethylamine (LSD), LSA (ergine, in plants) Same as above, plus agonism at other 5-HT, DA, and NE receptors. Same as above, plus other effects, depends of frequency of use and dose. Other ergolines are used for many diseases but are not psychedelic.
Dissociative anesthetics Phencyclidine (PCP), dextromethorphan, ketamine NMDA (glutamate receptor) antagonists Feeling of distance from reality and body, numbing of sensations and pain. Convincing and absorbing hallucinations. Nausea, vomiting, coma, violence, extreme confusion, temporary psychosis. PCP causes brain damage. Anesthesia. A related drug, memantine, is used in Alzheimer's disease, and these could be used in stroke sufferers.
Deliriants Scopolamine and atropine (in plants), diphenhydramine (Benadryl), dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) Muscarinic (ACh receptor) antagonists Loss of memory, convincing and absorbing hallucinations. Extreme confusion, temporary psychosis, hot, dry skin, dry mouth, huge pupils, fast heartbeat, death Many legitimate uses
Inhalants Diethyl ether (starter fluid), toluene, gasoline, glue, paint, xenon, freon, halothane, sevoflurane Unknown, probably multiple mechanisms Calm, relaxed, euphoric, pain relief, hallucinations, strange sensations (different inhalants cause different effects from this list) Many diseases, death, nausea, vomiting, accidental asphyxiation, falls, varies depending on particular drug General anesthesia
Nitrous oxide Unknown, but opioid pathways are necessary Calm, euphoric, pain relief, memory loss, unconsciousness Similar to above General or partial anesthesia
Nitrites Isoamyl nitrite, isobutyl nitrite Stimulate NO system (NO is a neurotransmitter) "Head rush", muscle relaxation, dizziness Dangerously low blood pressure, fainting Heart conditions
Other Salvinorin A (salvia divinorum) Selective agonist of the kappa opioid receptor Convincing, absorbing hallucinations, visionary states, pain relief Dysphoria, panic, headache, inability to talk, falls, sweating, persisting anxiety Theoretically similar to pain relievers (pentazocine)
Muscimol (amanita muscaria) GABA-A agonist Vaguely like a hallucinogen Nausea, other side effects Useful in research
Nicotine (tobacco) Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist See Wikipedia, PubMed, Google
Caffeine (coffee, tea, other plants) Adenosine receptor antagonist, inhibits some PDE enzymes causing increased cAMP signaling Alertness, wakefullness, energy, appetite suppression, headache relief Insomnia, anxiety, headaches on withdrawal, diuresis Headaches
Methaqualone (Quaalude, Sopor), thalidomide, meprobamate (Miltown), carisoprodol (Soma), glutethimide, chloral hydrate (knockout drops, Micky), ethchlorvynol (Placidyl), methyprylon, primidone Various mechanisms, mostly related to GABA, similar to barbiturates Depending on the drug: Calm, sleepy, euphoric, relaxed muscles, pain relief, nausea relief Falls, poor coordination and memory, coma, other side effects vary from drug to drug Anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain, anesthesia, epilepsy, muscle relaxation, nausea
Disclaimer: Do not use drugs for fun. Take drugs exactly as prescribed by a trustworthy doctor. This chart provides a rough overview, it is an oversimplification, it has omissions, and it may have blatant inaccuracies due to ongoing scientific debate or the writer's idiocy.
Neuro- transmitter: ACh
GABA Opioids Cannabinoids Histamine
Effects: ↓Heart rate ↑Secretions (sweat, saliva) ↑Memory ↑Muscle contractions ↑Heart rate ↑Alertness ↑Happiness ↓Blood circulation ↓Pain ↑Alertness ↑Happiness ↓Hunger ↑Happiness ↑Fullness ↓Pain The most common excitatory neurotransmitter ↑Sleepiness ↓Anxiety ↓Alertness ↓Memory ↓Muscle tension ↑Sleepiness ↓Anxiety ↓Pain ↑Hunger ↑Wakefulness ↑Stomach acid ↑Itchiness ↓Hunger
Drugs that increase or mimic: Nicotine, muscarine, Chantix, nerve gases (VX, Sarin), Alzheimer's drugs (Aricept, Exelon), physostigmine, Tensilon, pilocarpine Amphetamine, cocaine, SNRIs (Effexor, Cymbalta), tricyclic antidepressants, MAOIs, Wellbutrin, LSD, pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), albuterol, pyridostigmine Amphetamine, cocaine, Parkinson's drugs (levodopa, bromocriptine, benztropine), MAOIs, Wellbutrin, LSD Amphetamine, cocaine, LSD, psychedelics (mushrooms, mescaline), SSRIs (Prozac, Zoloft), tricyclic antidepressants, MAOIs, BuSpar, triptans (sumatriptan, for migraines) D-cycloserine, domoic acid (shellfish) Alcohol, barbiturates (phenobarbital), benzodiazepines (Valium), GHB, baclofen, neurosteroids (alphaxolone), muscimol Morphine, heroin, fentanyl, hydrocodone (Vicodin) THC (marijuana, hashish), nabilone Opiates, betahistine
Drugs that decrease or block: BZ, atropine, scopolamine, benztropine, biperiden, curare, Botox, mecamylamine, α-bungarotoxin Propranolol, clonidine, phentolamine, reserpine, AMPT Antipsychotics (Haldol), reserpine, tetrabenazine, AMPT Atypical antipsychotics (Risperdal, Seroquel), Zofran, reserpine, TPH inhibitors, tryptophan-depleted drink PCP, ketamine, Namenda (for Alzheimer's), dextromethorphan (Robitussin), dizocilpine Flumazenil, bicuculline, bemegride, Ro 15-4513, phaclofen Naloxone, naltrexone Rimonabant Benadryl, antipsychotics, Tagamet, Zantac
Disclaimer: Do not use drugs for fun. Take drugs exactly as prescribed by a trustworthy doctor. This chart provides a rough overview, it is an oversimplification, it has omissions, and it may have blatant inaccuracies due to ongoing scientific debate or the writer's idiocy.