As there are numerous types of drugs on the market, both legally and illegally, it is often helpful to have each drug grouped into different classifications for convenience, legal, and medical sake. Furthermore, because each drug has different side-effects on each user and varying degrees of addiction potentiality, having drugs categorized under shared chemical similarities from other drugs can help protect the individual from potential life-threatening side-effects. As such, drug classifications are necessary to ensure one’s well-being is being protected.

In order to avoid addiction and serious side-effects from incurring, one will need to know what drug classifications are, what types of drug classifications there are, and how to get help if one is currently in the grips of a deadly addiction.

What are Drug Classifications and How Are They Used?

To put simply, drug classifications are a means to organize drugs into categories. There are many reasons for why drugs are grouped under certain classifications in the first place. One of these reasons is to protect the individual using the drug. In this way, having drugs classified by chemical similarities from other drugs can provide an individual with the knowledge of how the drug they plan on taking can impact them based on the similarities shared from other drugs in the same category. Furthermore, if an individual is addicted to a drug, it will also help the prescribing doctor to steer clear from other drugs that are chemically similar to the individual’s drug of choice. This also means, generally speaking, that an individual addicted to a certain type of drug may gravitate towards other drugs in that category, as well. These categorizations also serve the doctor in ensuring their patient is prescribed something within a category that is safe for them, especially if there are any co-existing or co-occurring conditions that may play a factor in how the drug impacts them. 

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Typically, drugs are classified by how they impact the mind and body. While some drugs have a tendency to give the user more energy, others are known to bring energy levels down to a more relaxed, calm state. In fact, the observations made from how the drugs impact the user are more relevant to the way drugs are classified than even the chemical similarities themselves. However, when certain drugs impact the mind and body in related ways, oftentimes they do end up sharing chemical similarities, as well.

Types of Drug Classifications

Most countries typically have a legal system in which certain drugs can create consequences for a user that is found in possession or under the influence of that specific drug. Generally speaking, these legal classifications are based on the perceived risk the drug can cause to the user and others, as well as, the medical value of the drug. Because the classification of drugs can vary depending on the source, each classification system may differ from one another. However, there are certain drug classifications that are the most common among all threads and these include:

  • Alcohol: A legal substance in the U.S., it is also the most widely abused. While alcohol is known to create feelings of euphoria and lower inhibitions, it also brings with it devastating impacts to the user, which includes: impaired judgement, perception, and reaction times (which can cause severe bodily harm or even fatality, especially if driving under the influence) as well as, long-term damage to the liver.   
  • Opioids: These types of drugs serve as powerful painkillers but are also very susceptible to addiction. Opioids interact with neurotransmitters in the brain and block the signals they send, producing intense pleasure and euphoria. Because they are some of the most addictive substances, they also can be the most fatal. Some common types of opioids include heroin, fentanyl and oxycodone.AdobeStock 274753815
  • Benzodiazepines: Also known as benzos, benzodiazepines interact with the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABA-A). Because each type of Benzo interacts with the neurotransmitter in a different way, each Benzo also impacts the mind and body in different ways. While oftentimes prescribed for psychiatric and sleep conditions, benzos are extremely additive and widely abused. Some common types of Benzos include Ativan, Valium, and Xanax.
  • Cannabinoids: These types of drugs are chemically similar to the active compound in marijuana, THC. Following close behind alcohol, these drugs are the next most widely abused drugs in the U.S. Although they are considered less addictive than some other drug classifications, cannabinoids adversely affect the user’s mental and physical functioning and can do serious damage to an individual’s mental and physical health. 

  • Barbiturates: Acting on the central nervous system by slowing it down, barbiturates are commonly used to treat psychiatric and sleep disorders, as well as epilepsy and headaches. Barbiturates are even used for anesthesia. Highly addictive, these types of drugs carry with them an elevated risk of overdose by causing bodily systems to stop functioning. 

What to Do If You Have an Addiction to a Drug in Any of the Classifications

If you, or a loved one, suspects that an addiction is at hand it is imperative that treatment be sought immediately. As these drug classifications are only meant to help group certain drugs together for medical, legal, or treatment purposes, understanding what category of addiction you gravitate more towards can help to accelerate your recovery process. This is especially true if you feel you are someone that abuses different drug classifications together. 

Seeking help for an addiction does not show weakness. On the contrary, it shows incredible strength and power. Acknowledging where the addiction has a stronghold on you will only give you the ability to overcome it. With the help of trained medical professionals and an incredible support team, you can live free from the bondage of the painful and devastating effects of drug addiction. In this way, attending an inpatient drug rehab that specializes in holistic, well-rounded treatment plans that are centered around your individual, unique needs will prove to be the most beneficial approach to long-term recovery. Reach out today and get the help you need and deserve. There is no better time than now to take care of yourself and start building on the future you’ve always dreamed of.

Amanda Stevens

Amanda Stevens

Amanda is a prolific content writer, and is in recovery from disordered eating. She has a passion for health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and being a mother of a beautiful daughter.

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