There are hundreds of different types of drugs which do different things and will have different effects (both short and long term) and risks. These risks and effects can be increased by using different substances (including alcohol) together, poor mental health, poor physical health and by using different substances in different situations and depending on your mood when you using. For example a “party drug” such as ecstasy is likely to have very different effect taken at a rave when you maybe feeling happy, excited and are with other people than if you use it when you are at home and are alone or bored.

There are three main types of drugs: depressants, stimulants, and hallucinogens.


This category includes both prescribed and illicit substances such as heroin, morphine, opiates (such as codeine, dihydrocodeine and Solpadeine), Benzodiazepines (such as Diazepam, Nitrazepam & Temazepam), Pregabalin (used to treat pain associated with damaged nerves) & methadone (an opiate substitute medication). Alcohol is also a depressant substance.

These are drugs depress (slow down) the Central Nervous System (CNS). The CNS includes the brain and the spinal cord and controls the thought processes, movements and sensations in the body.

Common effects from taking these substances can include feelings of being relaxed and calm, becoming sleepy and a “damping down” of emotions and feelings.

Depressant use carries a significant overdose risk, and these risks are increased by using different substances (including alcohol) together.


This category includes substances such as cocaine, crack, amphetamines and some of the New Psychoactive Substances (although these also sometimes have an hallucinogenic effect) and caffeine (found in coffee, energy drinks and chocolate).

These drugs stimulate (excite) the CNS and most especially the brain and heart (when using stimulants the heart rate will increase).

Common short term effects from these substances include increased alertness and improved ability to stay awake, improved mood, increased energy levels, rapid speech and movement, decreased appetite, increased body temperature and increased blood pressure.

Longer term stimulant use can effect mental health and may lead to hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety and difficulties in concentrating and focusing.


The category includes substances such as cannabis, magic mushrooms and some of the New Psychoactive Substances (although these sometimes also have a stimulant type effect).

The short term effect of these drugs are that they can alter someone’s perception (the way you see something – colours may seem brighter or have a psychedelic effect), or alter thoughts and feelings (for example if using hallucinogens you may have feelings of euphoria or being very relaxed and happy). They cause hallucinations and images that may seem real though they are not. Certain hallucinogens can cause you to experience feelings of being disconnected from your body or the environment around you.

Some hallucinogens may also have a stimulant effect and increase heart rate, blood pressure and sleeplessness.

Long term use of hallucinogens can be linked to lack of motivation, anxiety, paranoia, difficulties in concentration and poor memory. It has also been linked to serious long term mental health problems.



This is just basic information on some of the most commonly used substances. There are thousands of substances out there and, before you experiment it is important that you are aware of the likely effects and the risks in order that if you do experiment you do so as safely as possible.

The internet has a lot of information on substances but not all of it is reliable. One reliable site is which contains a lot of information on different substances.

You can also contact Harbour for advice and information on 01752 434343. Remember – you don’t need to be actively using a substance to talk to someone at Harbour – we are also able to offer advice in order that, if you do experiment you do so as safely as possible.