The difference between stimulants and depressants is equivalent to the difference between night and day. Stimulants are known as “uppers” and depressants are known as “downers” due to their effects. When someone wants to know what are the potential consequences of mixing stimulants and depressants, the answer is serious permanent physical or brain damage up to and including death.

Stimulant vs depressant

Stimulants or “uppers” can include a variety of drugs ranging from cocaine and methamphetamine to Adderall and other prescription drugs. Depressants or “downers” include a variety of prescription drugs and street drugs like heroin. Often used together, a stimulant vs depressant effect provides the user a rollercoaster of highs and lows. Someone addicted may use pharmaceuticals like Adderall or Ritalin during the day and oxycontin at night. The risks of this alternating cycle can be dangerous and deadly.

Over the Counter now Over 18

Due to the increase in abuses of pharmaceuticals, many medications that were once over the counter are now locked up behind pharmacist counters and require over 18 years of age (and an ID) to purchase. The antihistamines and cold medicines can contribute to addiction if taken in large quantities or more often than prescribed. It is important for adults to take seriously the risk of abuse.

Antihistamines are often abused for their stimulant properties. Cold medicines, containing DMX (dextromethorphan) are depressants that need to be used sparingly. Medications such as Benadryl may have the potential for abuse. In fact, the stimulants and depressants are regularly accessible to most adults.


Defining stimulants and designating substances to this category requires a large and broad definition to encompass the number and range of substances that fall into this category. Therefore, the stimulants can be defined as a substance which increases the nervous system or physiological activity. Stimulants can encompass pharmaceuticals that treat everything from mental illness to allergies. The core component of the definition is within the word; stimulants stimulate some part of the body or brain. They are extremely dangerous and the acute use or chronic abuse can lead to serious health issues, including heart attack, stroke, seizures, and death.stimulants


Defining depressants and designating substances to this category requires a large and broad definition, in order to encompass the number and range of substances that fall into the category. Depressants are defined as a substance which decreases the body’s nervous system and physiological functions. Depressants can encompass both pharmaceuticals and street drugs. Street drugs that are depressants include heroin.

The pharmaceuticals that can be categorized as depressants include a variety of pain medications and medications for mental illnesses. A depressant is a name for an extremely broad group of substances that can be abused and cause death.

Depressants, when abused or used chronically, can cause permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system. Drugs within the depressants category are responsible for the vast majority of immediate overdose deaths. Patients who are given medications, within this group, are warned and monitored for safety. Doctors are revising and tightening the guidelines for medications with depressant potential in order to help control and stop the nation’s opioid crisis.


There are many consequences of using and abusing stimulants and depressants, including permanent damage and death. The pharmaceutical industry is strengthening dispensing guidelines and putting strict controls into place in order to monitor both doctors and patients. With a national epidemic, both medical and pharmaceutical industries are coming together to create warning systems.

Patients with potential rise are being flagged, documented, and warned about the consequences in order to ensure that patients who need medication receive it and those who do not need them (or are at risk for abuse) are given serious considerations and alternatives including rehab. Doctors have many tools to assist patients who have become addicted to their prescription stimulants or depressants. To learn more about this and similar topics, reach out to United Recovery Project.