Is Cocaine an Upper or Downer?

is cocaine an upper or downer

Cocaine is a stimulant, classifying it as an upper. Banned in the United States in 1922 after years of being marketed as an energy supplement, cocaine usage peaked decades later in the 1970s as it became a designated party drug. According to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, cocaine is now the second-most trafficked drug in the world. 

All drugs can be categorized as either “uppers” or “downers”. These terms refer to the overall physical and chemical reactions an individual experiences while being under the influence of a specific substance. Uppers are stimulants that produce an increase in energy, feelings of invincibility, and sharpened focus while downers act as depressants, inducing lethargy, feelings of euphoria, and relief from discomfort. 

While uppers act as stimulants and downers act as depressants, each is equally capable of inflicting severe harm to the user.  Adverse reactions associated with uppers include rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, and aggression whereas downers contribute to breathing suppression, low blood pressure, and impairment of motor skills. 

is cocaine an upper or downer?

The Cocaine High 

Cocaine can be snorted, taken orally, injected, or smoked. Reactions to the drug occur almost immediately and typically last for 15-30 minutes. The use of cocaine results in a high in which the user experiences: 

  • Increased focus
  • Decreased appetite
  • Excessive sweating 
  • Rapid heartbeat 
  • Sense of invincibility/ grand sense of self

Is Cocaine an Upper or Downer?
Dangers of Cocaine Use

The substance is highly addictive due to its ability to induce feelings of euphoria and inflate confidence. When ingested, cocaine manipulates brain chemistry by blocking dopamine reabsorption which causes a dopamine build-up in the brain. As the neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure regulation, dopamine remains idle in the brain, resulting in intense feelings of euphoria, although short-lived. 

Cocaine, like many other stimulants, is metabolized rapidly within the body. Depending on the amount ingested, a cocaine high lasts anywhere from 15-30 minutes, and feelings of euphoria devolve into agitation and fatigue. These unpleasant effects reinforce additional, continued use. As a stimulant, prolonged cocaine use has the potential to inflict serious damage on the organs, specifically the cardiovascular system. 

While cocaine has the potential to harm various organs, the heart remains the most vulnerable to damage incurred by prolonged use. As a stimulant, cocaine aggressively increases an individual’s heart rate and blood pressure, leading to an increase in oxygen demand which strains the heart. In a study conducted by the American Heart Association, stimulant drug use (96% cocaine, 5% methamphetamine) was self-reported in 594 of 11,258 patients who were treated for heart failure across 83 hospitals. They also state that patients with stimulant drug use were more likely to experience three or more hospitalizations within a 6-month timeframe. 

is cocaine an upper?

Asheville Recovery Center Can Help  

Cocaine is a dangerous and highly addictive depressant that inflicts long-term damage on the body when abused. It is important to seek help immediately if you or a loved one is struggling with this addiction. At Asheville Recovery Center, treatment specialists have developed a unique, hybrid model of treatment which combines a traditional 12-step program with holistic rehabilitation. A multitude of services, programs, and therapies are offered, including the Partial Hospitalization Program, Residential-style treatment, outpatient rehabilitation, and more. 

The founders of Asheville Recovery Center, as well as many of our addiction therapists, have struggled with addiction and now enjoy life in recovery. They understand the struggles of addiction and how difficult it is to overcome alone. If you feel that you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, our specialists are on standby and ready to help. Call us and speak with an addiction expert today so you can take the first step towards a rewarding life of sobriety.

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