Addictive substances are typically classified as either “uppers” or “downers”. These terms refer to the physical and mental reactions an individual experiences when intoxicated by a specific substance. As stimulants, uppers produce an increase in energy, focus, and confidence while downers act as depressants, causing lethargy, euphoria, and pain relief.

Despite their contrasting side effects, both uppers and downers are equally capable of inflicting damage to the user. Medical complications associated with uppers include rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, and agitation whereas downers contribute to breathing suppression, low blood pressure, and severe motor skill impairment. 

Is Alcohol an Upper or Downer? 

Alcohol is classified as a downer since it is a central nervous system depressant. Due to the substance being legal and easily accessible, alcohol is the most abused substance in the world. In fact, the CDC states that approximately 95,000 deaths each year are attributed to alcohol. These fatalities include alcohol-induced traffic accidents, alcohol poisoning, and liver failure among others.  

Side Effects of Alcohol Consumption

Reactions from drinking alcohol happen within minutes and can last for many hours. These side effects include:

Slurred Speech 

Impaired motor functioning


Suppressed breathing


Impaired Judgment

Violence and aggression

When drinking heavily, the body views alcohol as a poison, resulting in the possibility of experiencing the following adverse side effects:


Liver damage




Dangers of Alcohol Addiction and Abuse

Heavy or prolonged drinking negatively affects the body in various ways. Alcohol toxicity is a result of drinking in excess and the brain begins to interpret alcohol as poisonous. When the toxicity stage has been reached, breathing suppression begins which then reduces oxygen supply to vital organs significantly. The brain is particularly vulnerable to alcohol abuse. Excessive and prolonged alcohol intake deplete’s the brain’s thiamine supply resulting in Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, or “wet brain”. Symptoms of this disorder include mental confusion, paralysis of the nerves that move the eyes, difficulty with muscle coordination, and persistent learning and memory problems. 

The liver is also extremely susceptible to damage caused by alcohol abuse as it is responsible for the metabolization of alcohol within the body. The three forms of liver disease attributed to excessive alcohol consumption are fatty liver, cirrhosis, and hepatitis. According to the Cleveland Clinic, Cirrhosis causes about 26,000 deaths each year in the U.S. and is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. among adults 25 to 64 years of age. 

Although severe disorders can develop through heavy, prolonged alcohol consumption, impaired driving while under the influence is the leading cause of alcohol-related fatalities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 29 people in the United States die each day in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. 

Alcohol Addiction Treatment 

Alcohol is a highly addictive substance and abusing this drug can be life-threatening 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. 

Services offered: 

Detox – Our on-site detox clinic accommodates and supports clients as the body sheds all residual traces of alcohol. 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 alcoholism, our specialists are on standby and ready to help. Call Knoxville Recovery Center and speak with an addiction expert today.

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