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Understanding the Difference Between Stimulants and Depressants

Man learning the difference between stimulants and depressants

Stimulants and depressants are very different. Stimulant drugs speed up your body and cognitive functions, whereas depressants slow them down. Using these drugs together places a massive burden on your body’s cardiovascular and respiratory systems. This polydrug use can lead to severe cardiac complications, coma, overdose, and even death.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder, consider the stimulant addiction treatment at Vertava Health. Contact us at 844.470.0410 for more information about stimulants and depressants.

What Are Stimulants?

Stimulants, also called uppers, cause certain systems within your body and brain to work faster. The most common stimulants are:

  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • MDMA (ecstasy)

Symptoms of using stimulants include:

  • Alertness
  • Anxiety
  • Appetite suppression
  • Excitability
  • Euphoria
  • Heart rate and blood pressure increase
  • Increased energy
  • Nervousness
  • Paranoia
  • Restlessness
  • Sense of well-being
  • Talkativeness

What Are Depressants?

Central nervous system depressants, or downers, have more sedative and tranquilizing effects, both physically and mentally. There are several types of depressants:

  • Barbiturates, which are most known for inducing a sleepy and relaxed state. They are prescribed for seizures or for use during surgery. Once used heavily for sleep and anxiety, many physicians stray away from these uses due to the potential for overdose.
  • Benzodiazepines, or benzos, which create an intense, calm, and relaxed state. Highly addictive, these drugs form intense physical dependencies, which can lead to deadly withdrawals if not supported by a medical detox.
  • Non-benzodiazepine sleep medications, which create a sleep-inducing effects similar to benzos. They are purported to have a lower potential for physical dependence when compared to benzos, as well as fewer side effects. But, despite this, they can still be used in a manner that leads to dependence, addiction, withdrawal, and even overdose.
  • Alcohol. Far too many people overlook alcohol’s potential as a drug. Even though, at the onset, alcohol can create a pleasurable and stimulatory effect, it’s actually a depressant, another fact that is often disregarded.
  • The opioid drug class consists of drugs that are naturally derived from opium (referred to as opiates) and those which seek to mimic the opiate effect. Opioids create respiratory depression, sedation, and a pain-relieving effect. They also develop a sense of euphoria, which is the primary reason they are used.


The Dangers of Mixing Stimulants and Depressants

Taking a stimulant and depressant simultaneously can create a false sense of stability and safety. One can mask the other in a dangerously misleading way to the user. For instance, just because cocaine reduces the feeling of intoxication while drinking does not mean that you’re immune from alcohol’s effects.

Even though you may feel like you can drink more without becoming drunk, your body and organs are still experiencing the weight of the alcohol. And vice versa, should you binge on cocaine. This polydrug use increases the risk of overdose from either drug, as well as addiction to each. This phenomenon holds true with whatever combination of stimulant and depressant you choose.

By taking both stimulants and depressants, a person faces an increased susceptibility to:

  • Dehydration
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Coma
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Overdose
  • Death

Find Treatment at Vertava Health

If you are abusing stimulants or depressants, or both, Vertava Health can provide you with the resources and support you need to get sober. We offer evidence-based treatment methods and individualized care plans to treat addiction and any underlying mental health disorders.

To learn more about our stimulant and depressant addiction treatment program, contact us today at 844.470.0410. Don’t let your drug use or addiction pull your life apart. We can help you put the pieces back together and start living a life in recovery.