Medically Reviewed by Jodi Mabry – NP
It is a debate as old as time—uppers vs downers: which is more harmful? People often question if “uppers” like methamphetamines (“meth”) and cocaine or “downers” like opioids and alcohol pose more risk than the other. The answer is that both of them have many potential dangers and are especially dangerous when combined.
Further, the risks involved in abusing uppers increase when combined with other uppers but also when combined with downers. Similarly, there is an increased risk when combining downers with other downers as well as a risk when downers are combined with uppers. To learn more about the risks associated with uppers and downers or combining substances reach out to Oasis Recovery to speak with a specialist about drug addiction treatment near you.
The Dangers of Abusing “Uppers”
Common effects and side effects of abusing “uppers” can include:
- Muscle tension
- Jaw clenching
- Chest pains
- Heart palpitations
Combining more than one “upper” can have dangerous and unpredictable effects that may include:
- Extreme aggression
- Erratic behavior
- Increased body temperature
- Brain damage
- Liver damage
- Heart failure
The Dangers of Abusing “Downers”
Common effects and side effects of abusing “downers” can include:
- Lowered inhibitions
- Shakiness or tremors
- Impaired reflexes
- Impaired short-term memory
Combining more than one “downer” can have dangerous and unpredictable effects that may include:
- Unpredictable behavior
- Dangerously slow breathing
- Respiratory arrest
- Weak pulse
- Organ damage
- Loss of consciousness
Uppers vs Downers: The Dangers of Combining
Uppers like cocaine, methamphetamines, stimulant prescription drugs, and MDMA, have are risky to abuse on their own and especially dangerous when combined with “Downers” like opiates, “benzos”, or alcohol.
There are many risks and dangers of combining substances. Speedballing is a term that was originally used to specifically refer to the combination of cocaine and heroin. Over time, the meaning of “speedballing” has expanded to include the concept of combining “uppers” and “downers”. Speedballing, and related polysubstance use, increases the likelihood of overdose. Combinations of substances also tend to make addictions more severe and can increase the need for additional coaching when it comes to relapse prevention.
The combination of “uppers” and “downers” can be appealing to those with substance abuse disorders. There are many reasons why this may or not be the case and this varies from person to person. The appeal of one drug over another may be because a person’s body generally responds better, that is, produces more euphoric and desirable effects and, at least initially, minimal side effects. In the long run, addiction never leads anyone down a positive path.
Polysubstance abuse is commonly used when an individual has developed an addiction to multiple substances and regularly seeks a variety of them. What is somewhat unusual about polysubstance addictions is that the individual has not formed a strong preference for a single substance. Those who have polysubstance addictions may develop cravings for the effects that are associated with particular combinations of substances.
Common examples of polysubstance addictions can include combinations of the following:
- Opioids and alcohol
- Cocaine and alcohol
- Alcohol and benzodiazepines
- Xanax, Valium, Klonopin
- Opioids and benzodiazepines
- Barbiturates and stimulants
- Cocaine, meth
- Opioids and cocaine
- Meth and opioids
Contact Oasis Recovery to Begin Treatment Today
If you or someone you care about is contemplating the uppers vs downers debate, experimenting with either type of substance, or combining substances, then they may benefit from the personalized addiction recovery programs and mental health treatment services provided by Oasis Recovery. We pride ourselves in treating each client as an individual and taking the time and care to personal treatment plans to meet your individual needs. Reach out to us today for more information about how we can help you on the road to lasting recovery.