Depressants are drugs that slow down the central nervous system and the messages that go between the brain and the body. These drugs decrease people’s concentration and slow down their ability to respond. The name ‘depressant’ suggests that these drugs can make a person feel depressed, but this is not always the case. The term depressant purely refers to the effect of slowing down the central nervous system. Some examples of depressants include: alcohol, opioids (e.g., heroin), barbiturates, GHB.
Stimulants (also referred to as psychostimulants) are drugs that stimulate the central nervous system and speed up the messages going between the brain and the body. These drugs typically increase energy, heart rate and appetite. Some examples of psychostimulants include: methamphetamine (speed, ice, base), cocaine, dexamphetamine, caffeine, nicotine, MDMA/ecstasy.
Hallucinogens are drugs which typically alter how a person perceives the world. These drugs can change the way a person sees, hears, tastes, smells or feels different things, including experiencing things that aren't there at all. Some examples of hallucinogens include: ketamine, magic mushrooms, LSD.
To find out more, read our Hallucinogens factsheet.