Drugs World

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

I found this image on a far-flung tumblr. It really got me excited. What a cool map of drugs.

Drugs Map

(If you are the author of this image, please get in touch. I had a look but couldn’t find you) The original author is Derek Snider (thanks to Waldir for the find)

I thought the type could do with a bit of sprucing. So I had a bosh at it myself. Knowing a little about drugs, I also rejinked the categories some. And added captions for the narcotically-naive in the audience. (Click for the hi-res)

The Drugs World - Click for hires

I like the way Cannabis comes out as a SUPER DRUG. The only stimulating-hallucinogenic depressant with anti-psychotic properties. And it grows out of the ground!

Of course, it’s not the complete picture. The more obscure drugs have been filtered out. (If any obvious ones have been missed out, please let me know.) Also complex classes and sub-classes of chemicals have been merged. I’m sure Alexander Shulgin is spitting out his 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine as we speak…

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Show Comments ( )

  • Alex, ER Doc

    Nicely done. I may actually use this chart in the ER. However, I’ll make one small correction: Benzodiazepines are not a separate category from Sedative-Hypnotics; they are a subcategory. But thanks for the nice illustration!

  • a girl

    You seem to have plenty of knowledge in this topic… let the wisdom spread to the humanity!

    Great job!

  • Graham Woods

    This is amazing.
    I’m a Senior Drug Practitioner; can I use this chart for training?

    • david

      With pleasure! Please note though that I’ve conflated a few of the drug sub-categories to make the diagram work.

  • lecale

    What a neat graphic, and great job of cleaning up the original. I have Bipolar Disorder, so I have been starting my day with an astronaut’s breakfast of pills selected out of the top circle for the last 25 years. Hmm, maybe a puff too, now. From that viewpoint, some suggestions: I think your “NRI’s” may be actually “NDRI’s”, but you still need an “NRI” heading for drugs like Reboxetine. “SNRI’s” like Venlafaxine and Duloxetine are missing, and they are really popular prescriptions these days (Effexor, Cymbalta) – pills for everybody! And you should honour “TCA’s” (tricyclic antidepressants) like Imipramine because they still get used despite their side effect profile and age, and that was what there was before the Coming of Prozac. Finally, no Mood Stabilizers (Lithium, and the Anticonvulsants, Valproate/Valproic Acid, Carbamazapine, Lamotrigine, Oxcarbazepine) on the chart, though they would be hard to plot because the mechanism of action is not quite known. They’re the pills that keep me from thinking that public nudity and everything in the other three circles are a great idea, so hey, if you could rough them in, I would print this for my wall to explain my life. Also, I’ll second the motion about the bennies from Alex and suggest that fast/short acting bennies (Z-drugs) like Triazolam (Halcion, for insomnia) show up in a short list too. I agree: Cannabis, for being just some sort of catnip that grows out of the ground, is a fascinating drug. I can snap into some form of functionality from psychotic depression almost instantly using it, then pick up with olanzapine to finish the job. It’s an important crisis drug for me in this sense. Anyway, neat, neat, neat chart and nicely improved. I wandered over from Neatorama this morning and am taking some time to enjoy the rest of your site.

    • david

      Thanks for the feedback and the great suggestions. I’ll bung all that in to v2.0 when I come back off holiday. I may ping you for clarification. You seem to know you stuff!

  • http://www.bickov.com Alexander Bickov

    Nice and funny stats :) My twitter account is one of them

  • http://neuroskeptic.blogspot.com Neuroskeptic

    Wow, this is fantastic, nice work!

    Of course, some would argue that there should be more than two dimensions. Dissociatives and deleriants such as ketamine, salvinorin, and PCP are very different to LSD in many ways, so maybe they should be a dimension of their own. But it works remarkably well in 2D.

  • http://www.fia.com.pl SImon

    is there a printable high res version, would love this up on my corporate wall

  • http://turkeyphant.org/ Turkeyphant

    I have to disagree with your rearrangement, especially of the psychedelics.

    I think this is more accurate but could still do with some work: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Turkeyphant/Psychoactive_drug_chart

  • Lior

    Nicely done, very informative and most importantly – easily accessed information about drugs.
    I have some to add:
    The Inhalants – nitrous oxide, freon, glue and such. They would spread across the diagram, as each has a different effect.
    Two others, Nutmeg and Absinthe (or Wormwood) may be added, although absinthe’s effects excluding alcohol are disputed.

  • Katyusha

    Trazodone is not a tetracyclic antidepressant; you reproduced that error in your chart. Trazodone has hypnotic and sedative properties (and it shares some vague features with the SSRI class) but as I understand it, it’s technically a piperazine, weirdly enough. Don’t even know where that would place it on the chart. You could replace it with other tetracyclics (mirtazapine is probably one of the best-known, as Remeron).

    Overall awesome chart, though.

  • HT

    Shouldn’t uppers be on the top and downers on the bottom?

    I do love your work by the way!

    • david

      yeah you’re right – thanks for the suggestion. I think, though, that I’ll need a large dose of uppers to implement that sizeable tweak.

  • Cerrig

    It might be worth mentioning that CBD is balanced with THC in the natural form of cannabis, but tha plant has been messed with so much to increase the amount of THC to produce Skunk that the CBD has little effect.

  • tickle

    this is really nice…

    i saw the original but yours is clearer and crisper.

    lecale “I can snap into some form of functionality from psychotic depression almost instantly using it, then pick up with olanzapine to finish the job.”

    damn it this is really interesting to know. i’m studying mental health nursing (the “people are people and labels aren’t necessarily helpful” school) and i can’t see how i could ever advise someone to smoke pot even though i do think it has a role to play in helping to lift peoples mood or improve appetite or whatever. guess i’ll have to make that decision once i’m qualified.

  • Tony

    Yours is about 1000x better.

  • a non mouse

    Yours is about 1000x better.

    I’ve enjoyed a lot of the posts on this site, but here I think the original has some positives that the remake has lost, though of course it’s rather old and fuzzy. The circles within circles give a deeper sense of complex relationships without being messy – the use of multiple fonts on the new one seems more visually confusing. The colors getting lighter rather than darker toward the center seems useful. Also I just think the brighter colors are more fitting for a chart about drugs – it just sort of looks more fun. So I sort of disagree, though I can appreciate the newer, cleaner look.

  • Katharine

    Isn’t your datura pointer a tiny bit off?

  • cb

    Awesome chart, I love your site

    *though you have spelt Phenethylamines wrong. ;)

  • Gerulf

    Nice chart, very clear although you missed Aripiprazol (quite new atypical anti-psychotic).

  • http://lasaventurasdevitinho.blogspot.com/ V

    [..] En la siguiente ilustración se puede apreciar los distintos tipos de drogras que existen en el mundo de manera legal e ilegal. [...]


  • bruno

    nice way to put it, I haven’t found ketamin though… too bad ;)

  • hopdaddy

    I wonder if it would be possible to pull data from erowid.org to create some sort of similar visualization. Maybe something renderable in 3D even.

  • http://www.zoombits.co.uk/christmas-gifts christmas gifts  

    Great and informative post.There is absolutely zero research that proves anti-depressants and antipsychotics are safe and effective for use on children, because such safety and efficacy studies are illegal. On the other side of the coin, there are multiple studies that show that a child’s brain chemistry is vastly different from an adult.All use of psychoactives on children is done off-label. There’s no clinical evidence to show that they even work.

  • Brad Buchanan

    Very interesting , what data and what data sources (ROO) put Cannabis at the center of the graph?

  • Isaac

    While the chart might be completely correct, “Wikipedia” cannot be cited as a source.

  • asdf

    surely it is much more complex than this.
    I find this interesting, but I don’t think something like this can really be explained in such a “tidy” sort of way.

  • http://www.michaelwharton.co.uk Synonymous

    I have to applaud your effort in creating such a masterpiece of pharmaceutical chemistry art. Hard to accomplish as it is, this piece would have to adorn the wall of ever student flat when it is complete in V2.0 (as you referred to it yourself).

    I would like totally buy a poster of it if it was 100% accurate, it would be like a “to do list” for some of the people I know!

  • http://www.soundoctor.com barry

    It’s odd that the antipsychotics which PULL YOU DOWN are at the top, when in fact they should be on the bottom.
    And the hallucinogenics, which get you “high” are on the bottom, when locically and ergonomically, they belong on top…um… pointing “up”.

    But the concept is lovely.

  • max

    Cannabis is not a hallucinogen, it’s just a common psychoactive drug.

  • cursed1

    I’m suffering from schizophrenia and I can tell you canabis is far from an anti-psychotic even on medication it gives me hallucination.

  • Ella

    Nice done… But indeed: why is Cannabis in the centre? It’s far from anti-psychotic, it triggers psychosis by people who carry a genetic weakness for schizofrenia (like Cursed1 said). And people without the genetic weakness can have a short drug-induced psychosis as wel (from cannabis, cocaine, …).

  • Max

    Any chance we can get a higher-res version of this to print?

  • Springer Jones

    I think cannabis place might be spot on. Although the current modified strains (such as skunk) are mostly dominated by THC, which can cause psychosis, the large number of other strains have/had significant quantities of Cannabidiol, which in fact is an anti-psychotic. I read this in the New Scientist quite recently.

    A very anal remark – David, could you change the spelling of the phenethylamines? :)

    Great work!

  • Captain Obvious

    Where is this 2.0 version you spoke of?

  • http://thekentspecial.com kent

    What about alcohol?

  • Waldir

    The original author seems to have been Derek Snider: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Drug_Chart_version_1.0.png

    • david

      thank you Waldir – great find!

  • ale4ko

    Why lsd in tryptamines ? It should be in ergotamines with missing LSA . Where 5-meo-DMT , and other missing tryptamines such as bufotenin ?

  • medicine man

    nicotine is a methylxanthine, just as caffiene. It is NOT a cholinergic.

  • Xenocide

    Notice cannabis in the middle.Why of course it is, it is the healer of all ailments given by god to provide the world with a cure to chaos and mayhem. The ultimate drug with no lethal qualities and a cure for everyday life. Why is alcohol legal where this cure is not? Hello population control!

  • Luke Mitchell

    As ale4ko points out, LSD most definitely isn’t a Tryptamine. It is an indole and thus related, but is, in fact, an Ergotamine.

  • nAON

    To those posting about LSD – it is an ergoline, which isnt a tryptamine (which are derived from indoles), but close enough to put in the category, no point having every single possible chemical class have its own list.

    And one thing that bothered me was the antipsychotic/tranquilizer thing. Ketamine/Nitrous were put seperately in psychedelics, yet they are also tranquilizers. while the group ‘antipsychotics/tranquilizers’ seemed only to contain the anti-dopamine drugs, so while they can be technically tranquilizers, i wouldn’t group them together, or at least move the dissociatives around a bit

  • Frithjof Dau

    late comment, as I only recently found this inspiring page …
    The diagram obvioulsy causes heaps of contentwise discussions, which to me speaks for its quality. Unfortunately, is is *formally* not quite complete. The structure looks quite similar to he well-known Venn-diagram with three sets, and one might think this is essentially the same, now done with four sets (“antipsychotics”; “stimulants”, “depresseants” and “hallocinogens”). In a Venn-diagram, all possible combinations of the sets of visually represented, e.g. in our diagram we find a region which stands for drugs which are antipsychotics, stimulants, depresseants, but not hallocinogens. With four sets, there should be 2^4=16 such regions, but there are indeed only 14 of them (including the white region). Two set combinations simply don’t have corresponding region in the diagram, namely 1) drugs which are “antipsychotics” and “hallocinogens” , but neither “stimulants” nor “depresseants”, and 2) drugs which are “stimulants” and “depresseants”, but neither “antipsychotics” nor “hallocinogens”. That is: To me, the diagram suggests to show all possible combinations of the four drug types, whereas it does not. It might sound picky, but to me this is somewhat a flaw, sorry …

    P.S. There are Venn-diagrams for any number of sets, but they are not as nice as the famous “three-set-diagram”.

  • Snooze

    LSD is not a tryptamine, it’s a phenethylamine.