“Uppers” and “downers” are slang terms that refer to the way a substance affects the central nervous system. Most drugs fall into one of the two categories. Uppers, also known as stimulants, are drugs that increase energy and alertness. They also raise blood pressure and heart rate. In contrast, downers, also known as depressants, have a sedative effect on the brain and body. Downers decrease focus and alertness, and slow down breathing and heart rate.
With their opposing effects, both uppers and downers can be dangerous, and abusing either can be life-threatening. Health risks associated with uppers include cardiac distress, high blood pressure, and stroke, while downers increase risk of low blood pressure and respiratory failure.
Is Heroin an Upper or a Downer?
Heroin is a central nervous system depressant, classifying it as a downer.
As an opioid, heroin binds to opioid receptors in the brain that then trigger the release of dopamine. This release of dopamine produces a euphoric and calming effect on the mind and body. Many heroin users continue to take the drug for this intense sense of euphoria and relief from pain, but with regular use, the brain becomes unable to produce dopamine on its own. Heroin users then start to depend on heroin to provide dopamine, and to avoid dopamine depletion. Now physically dependent on the drug, the cycle of addiction has begun.
In 2019 alone, more than 14,000 people died from heroin overdoses in the United States. This number does not include fatal overdoses from all opioids—particularly synthetic opioids—which would put the total closer to 50,000.
Effects of Heroin Abuse
The effect heroin has on an individual will vary depending on factors like their physical and psychological make-up, the quantity of heroin taken, possible interactions with other substances or medications, and if they have begun to build a tolerance to the drug.
Short-term effects of heroin use may include:
- Relief from physical pain
- Euphoric feelings
- Shallow breathing
- Lowered body temperature
- Nausea or vomiting
- Risk of overdose
Long-term effects of heroin use may include:
- Collapsed veins
- Chronic constipation
- Skin sores
- Extreme weight loss
- Increased risk of HIV and Hepatitis from sharing needles
- Decreased immunity
- Risk of overdose
Knoxville Recovery Center Can Help
Heroin abuse is very dangerous to the user if left untreated. Fortunately, help is available for those battling this addiction. Depending on the stage of an individual’s addiction, they may require detox, an intensive treatment program, or both. Fortunately, Knoxville Recovery Center offers various services to those struggling with this addiction.
Detox – Our on-site detox clinic accommodates and supports clients as the body sheds all residual traces of heroin. Clients are under medical supervision during the detox process to ensure that they remain safe and comfortable.
Addiction Treatment – During our addiction treatment program, clients will engage in introductory therapies and exercises that work to prepare them for continued, more intensive treatment outside of our facility. The goal of our addiction treatment track is to stabilize clients so that they are treatment-ready.
Mental Health Treatment – Our mental health treatment program introduces behavioral therapies rooted in self-expression and holistic exercise. Art therapy, music therapy, and yoga are just a few forms of therapy we offer at the center. Our goal is to help the client reclaim their voice and expose them to treatment within a professional facility.
Aftercare Planning – Aftercare is designed for individuals who have benefitted from our introductory addiction services and are transitioning into a more intensive addiction treatment program. Once a client is stabilized, they will be encouraged to pursue continued addiction treatment. Our experienced case managers will then work with our clients to place them in a program that addresses their specific wants and needs.
Addiction is difficult to overcome alone. If you feel that you or a loved one is struggling with heroin abuse, our specialists are on standby and ready to help. Call Knoxville Recovery Center and speak with an addiction expert today.