Are “Uppers” as Addictive as “Downers”?

Most people have heard of  “uppers” and “downers,” but very few know what they refer to, let alone what differentiates them from one another.  If you are among those few, this article might be of some interest to you.  In short, uppers and downers are drug classifications that describe how a given drug affects the body’s central nervous system (CNS).  Uppers affect the CNS one way; meanwhile, downers affect another way.  For greater context, uppers are considered stimulants, and they can speed up all activity associated with an individual’s central nervous system, especially involving the brain.  When someone takes uppers, they are usually left feeling exceedingly alert and energetic.  For that reason, they are popular among the college crowd when the time comes to pull an all-nighter and study for an exam.

As far as downers, these drugs slow down all activity in the brain and CNS as a whole. One study published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) revealed that downers have a tendency to increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which, in turn, inhibits brain activity. They can also increase levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.  When all of this happens, it is not uncommon for some people to experience a peculiar sense of calmness followed by drowsiness.

Are “Uppers” as Addictive as “Downers”?

Now that we are a little more familiar with uppers and downers, let’s shift gears a bit and discuss the addictive nature of these drugs.  First, however, the following are examples of drugs that fit the characterization of uppers:

  • Adderall
  • Cocaine
  • Concerta
  • Ecstacy
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ritalin

Since uppers are stimulants, that alone makes the drugs listed above and other similarly classed drugs very addictive.  In fact, they are so addictive that most people cannot quit them on their own; they, instead, will often turn to a licensed rehab facility for help in breaking free of their addiction.

Individuals who use uppers or stimulants for a while soon come to rely on them to feel normal, and that reliance eventually turns into an outright addiction.  But it doesn’t end there; long-term misuse and abuse of stimulants can take a tremendous toll on their physical health. For instance, it is not uncommon for individuals who have a problem with stimulants to experience the following:

  • Hypertension
  • Damaged blood vessels
  • Psychosis

Because of the euphoric feelings that go hand-in-hand with taking stimulants, individuals who routinely misuse and abuse these drugs might not realize they are experiencing such health problems until it is too late.  And that in and of itself makes these particular drugs not only addictive but also very dangerous from a physical and mental health perspective.  But now, the question becomes how do downers compare to uppers when it comes to the addictive nature of such drugs and the dangers they can pose to someone’s physical and mental health.

The Truth About Downers

Alcohol, opiates, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and antihistamines are all considered downers or depressants.  According to most addiction experts, along with countless individuals who admit to misusing or abusing these drugs, the euphoric high is like no other.  Many have even gone as far as to say it is comparable to the high typically associated with misusing or abusing heroin.  Along with that immensely pleasurable euphoric high, however, many people will sometimes experience the following:

  • Confusion
  • A lack of coordination
  • Low blood pressure
  • Bradycardia
  • Bradypnea
  • Slurred speech and an inability to concentrate

By themselves, some might argue that uppers are more addictive than downers, but most people who misuse or abuse upper also do the same when it comes to downers.  And it is the combining of these drug classes that can elevate the risk of addiction and health problems.  For example, pairing these uppers and downers can increase an individual’s chances of overdosing from one or both.  Further, when someone takes both of these drugs, each will stay in their system longer than if they were taken by themselves, increasing the risk of a toxic build-up in the body.  Lastly, studies show that combining uppers and downers can wreak havoc on the cardiovascular system by increasing the risk of arrhythmia and, worse yet, heart failure.

Bottom Line

In summary, uppers and downers are both highly addictive drugs that can jeopardize an individual’s physical and mental health in more ways than one.  But the risk of addiction and health problems can more than double when someone combines the two classes of drugs for whatever reason.  If you’re reading this and believe that you, yourself have a problem with uppers or downers, you’re encouraged to speak with one of our addiction experts today at 302-842-2390.

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