Drug and Alcohol

Depressants And Stimulants: What's the Difference?

While stimulants and depressants can both be addictive, they affect the body and mind differently. Visit us today to learn how we can help.

Depressants And Stimulants: What's the Difference?

Table of Contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

January 13, 2022

The Edge Treatment Center

There are a wide variety of drugs that affect the body in unique ways. For some, drugs may be used to heighten one’s brain functions to reach a degree of euphoria or hyper-functionality, while others may use them to separate themselves from the stresses of reality by attempting to numb their thoughts and nerves.

The exact drugs that one chooses can reveal a lot about the reasons for use and often greatly impacts how they approach recovery. Not only do different drugs produce different mental effects, but they can also have unique effects on one physically, making each journey to sobriety a personal endeavor based on each individual’s own needs, whether one is using depressants or stimulants.  

What Are Depressants? 

Depressants are any kind of drug that aims to calm one’s regular brain functions. These drugs carry sedative properties that can affect an individual’s reaction time and limit the brain’s ability to send messages throughout the body. In some cases, these can be prescribed by a medical professional for many reasons, from helping an individual cope with anxiety, panic, trauma, or for their benefits as a sleep aid. Misuse outside of prescription, however, can produce many negative side effects. 

Barbiturates, opioids, and benzodiazepines are common classes of depressants. While some benzodiazepines are prescribed as anti-anxiety or insomnia medication, they are all still highly addictive and come in a variety of different forms. Unregulated use of these drugs can quickly lead to the development of dependence and addiction. Dependence can intensify the symptoms of withdrawal while counterproductively introducing large amounts of anxiety whenever the drugs aren’t being actively taken. This compromises the original intention behind their use. Overcoming addiction to these substances is difficult and is much more than a test of willpower. People who have become addicted to depressants typically require the use of dedicated detox and recovery facilities to manage withdrawal symptoms while coping with the anxiety, panic, or insomnia that they were originally trying to treat. 

Alcohol is another depressant that can have several undesirable effects. Alcohol’s ability to slow one’s thinking, compromise motor skills, slow reaction time, and even numb an individual to a degree of physical pain are all signs of one’s nervous system being stifled by the use of depressants.  

Symptoms of Depressants

While depressants have a place in a medical setting, awareness of the potential side effects of depressants is crucial. Some of the effects of depressants include: 

  • Slowed reaction time

  • Slurred speech

  • Compromised motor skills

  • Confusion/disorientation

  • Low blood pressure

  • Slowed respiratory rate or heart rate

  • Difficulty forming new memories

  • Perpetual tiredness/lethargy

  • Muscle fatigue

While each individual may respond to the use of depressants in their own way, being mindful of these symptoms can help each individual gauge their use of the substances and how they are affecting one’s mental and physical health. 

What Are Stimulants?

Stimulants have largely the opposite effect of depressants on the body. Rather than sedating the nervous system and brain activity, one may instead achieve a heightened sense of awareness, attentiveness, or burst of energy. Stimulants carry similar risks of addiction, dependence, and withdrawal as depressants and require just as much attention and work to overcome. 

Adderall may be the most widely known stimulant due to its propensity for misuse among students to cram for a test, quiz, or finish a paper. Adderall is only one of the many stimulants available via prescription or on the street. Ritalin, ecstasy, cocaine, crack, and other amphetamines and methamphetamines all have stimulating properties, jump-starting one’s nervous system into a fabricated sense of euphoria.

Symptoms of Stimulants

While the way stimulants affect the body can be very different from depressants, there are still a great number of risks that coincide with their use, and remaining vigilant of the pervasive symptoms of stimulant use is important. Some of these symptoms are: 

  • High blood pressure

  • Decreased appetite

  • Insomnia

  • Increased respiratory rate

  • Increased body temperature

  • Drastic mood swings, particularly with feelings of frustration or agitation

  • Stomach or chest pain

  • Anxiety

  • Paranoia

In drastic circumstances, the use of stimulants can also greatly increase one’s chances of heart attack, seizures, kidney failure, or even stroke. When taken outside of their prescribed use, stimulants can be dangerous and addictive substances that require constant monitoring. 

Both stimulants and depressants can be highly addictive, and while their effects on the body can vary, they can both have disastrous effects on one’s emotional, mental, and physical health. Mixing stimulants and depressants can have even more intense and negative effects on the body. This mix leaves one’s nervous system and respiratory system in a state of dangerous flux. The good news is, whatever one’s level of addiction, recovery is always possible. Attending a comprehensive detox, inpatient, and sober living facility may be necessary to cope with withdrawal from these drugs while learning the strategies to quell urges and maintain a sober lifestyle. 

Depressants And Stimulants Are Both Addictive Drugs

Both depressants and stimulants are highly addictive types of drugs, each taking a massive toll on one’s mental, emotional, and physical health. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction and are ready to take the first steps towards a healthier, sober future today, The Edge Treatment Center can help you. We understand the unique effects that drugs and alcohol can have on each person and are prepared to develop a recovery plan that is right for you. For more information on how we can help you, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member, call today!

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