Imagine you are on a staircase and there is no exit door at the nearest landing. You have to decide whether you are going to go up or down, right?

Well, let’s say you start climbing up. And up. And up some more. You keep getting higher but you still can’t find a way out of the staircase.

So, you turn yourself around. You start walking down. And down. And down some more. You keep getting lower but you still can’t find a way off the staircase.

At this point, you might start to panic. Are you going to be trapped on this staircase forever?

Bad News Whether You Head Up or Down

Our imaginary staircase is a metaphor. Two metaphors, in fact. The fruitless journey up and up and up? That is what it is like to develop a substance use disorder centered around stimulants. And the fruitless journey down and down and down? That is what it is like to develop a substance use disorder centered around depressants. 

Let’s take a closer look at each group of drugs.

Stimulants Provide a Feeling of Euphoria at a High Price

The name gives you a pretty good idea of what stimulants are and do. They stimulate your nervous system and give you a sense of energy. That might be okay (or not) when the stimulant is the caffeine in your morning coffee, but it is no good at all if the stimulant is, say, cocaine or methamphetamines

In addition to energy, stimulants can provide a sense of euphoria, and that is what keeps users coming back. But as a substance use disorder sets in, the highs are harder to come by and the mental and physical consequences just keep getting worse. Attempts to stop using these stimulants are often hampered by severe withdrawal symptoms, leaving users stuck between a rock and a hard place. 

Depressants Bring You Down—And Not in a Good Way

Drugs that are depressants are frequently prescribed to lessen feelings of anxiety. Used correctly, they can be a big help to those with ongoing anxiety that is hard to reign in. As a matter of fact, these drugs—often known as benzos (short for benzodiazepines)—include some of the most prescribed medications because so many people struggle with anxiety.

But while benzos can be helpful, they can also be addictive. These drugs slow activity in the brain, and that feeling of calm can be extremely pleasant. So pleasant that some users will do just about anything—so-called “doctor shopping,” for example—to keep a supply of these drugs on hand. And if a person tries to stop using these drugs, they will likely encounter the same challenge as a stimulant user: the rigors of trying to make it through withdrawal on their own.

Finding a Way Off the Metaphorical Staircase

Okay, in our metaphor, we left you trapped on a staircase with no apparent exit. Sorry about that.

But how are you supposed to get off a staircase with no exit at the top and no exit at the bottom? Well, it turns out there is a door if you know where to look. The exit will be marked: TREATMENT.

And that door is available on any level of our scary staircase. You just need to take that first step toward it.

How Treatment Allows You to Set a New Path

When you decide to pursue treatment for a substance use disorder, you unlock a path that lets you escape the terrible challenges of drug use and the terrible challenges of withdrawal—regardless of whether you have been using uppers or downers.

That is because treatment begins with medically supervised detoxification in a safe environment that is free of temptation. Getting through withdrawal is often difficult, but detox makes it possible for you to reclaim your sobriety.

Detoxification is not the end of the journey, by any means. Next up is rehabilitation—an opportunity to learn strategies, gather resources, and get support so that you have the tools to stay sober once treatment comes to an end. In rehab, you can also receive treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders that may be tangled up with your substance use disorder. Sobriety and good mental health go hand in hand.

Finally, quality treatment will include an ongoing continuum of care that continues to support you as your recovery gets underway.

Equally importantly, you can use the exit known as treatment if you happen to find yourself trapped on the stairs again. A relapse is a setback, to be sure, but you can still find your way back to a better path by returning to treatment.

Let Your First Step Lead You Here

At Wooded Glen Recovery Center—located in Henryville, Indiana—we offer the detoxification, rehabilitation, and continuum of care services noted above. We provide evidence-based care delivered with expertise, experience, and empathy. If you are stuck on the metaphorical staircase due to uppers, downers, or any other substance, we can help you find your way onto a much better path. When you are ready to change directions, we are ready to point the way.