Is Alcohol a Depressant?
Given its sometimes confusing and contradictory effects, you’d be forgiven for wondering: Is alcohol a depressant? Or is it a stimulant? Alcohol is able to cause effects common to both kinds of drugs but it’s a central nervous system depressant. Read on below to find out more about the chemical effects of alcohol.
Is Alcohol a Depressant? Only After Being A Stimulant
For most people, the first bit of alcohol they consume acts as a stimulant. It increases energy, sociability, and improves mood.
This effect is why the drug is popular at social gatherings, parties, and any other event where people come together. Alcohol acts as a disinhibitor, relieving the anxiety people feel when they interact with strangers and other people.
However, this effect slowly begins to wear off as more alcohol is consumed. At that point, alcohol begins to act differently.
When Is Alcohol a Depressant?
At higher doses, alcohol acts as a depressant. It reduces activity in the central nervous system, causing the person to slow down and become relaxed. Therefore, it increases reaction time and decreases intelligence.
At the highest doses, alcohol causes what is commonly called alcohol poisoning. The drinker experiences nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and clamminess. At even higher doses, alcohol can slow breathing to the point of unconsciousness or death.
Individual Differences In Alcohol Processing
As with all drugs, different people react to alcohol in different ways. Not only do people display different tolerance levels but they seem to have entirely different emotional reactions to alcohol.
A proportion of people react to alcohol consumption with increased irritability and anger. These people tend to get into arguments and fights while drinking. Also, they can sometimes become violent with loved ones or friends. This reaction to alcohol is particularly dangerous and is often associated with criminal or assaultive behavior.
Some people are particularly prone to experience alcohol’s stimulating and euphoriant effects. They become happy and gregarious when consuming alcohol. These are the people who can seemingly “dance the night away” at parties and social events.
Finally, many people are susceptible to alcohol’s depressant effects. They become relaxed, even sleepy when drinking. These folks sometimes have higher tolerances than others, which may explain why they primarily feel the depressant effects of alcohol. After all, these effects only become apparent at higher doses of the drug.
San Antonio Recovery Center Can Help
Alcohol can create severe problems in the lives of problem drinkers and their loved ones. We at the San Antonio Recovery Center (SARC) believe that affordable, comprehensive care for alcoholics is realizable. Because we aim to treat the whole person, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, we offer a wide range of programs and treatments, including:
- Residential treatment and inpatient rehabilitation
- Intensive outpatient programs
- 90-day treatment
- Aftercare program
- Family counseling
- Individual counseling
- Group therapy
- 12-step programs
If alcohol creates problems in your life or the life of a loved one, please don’t hesitate to call us at 866.957.7885. We would love to talk to you. We can answer questions like, “Is alcohol a depressant or a stimulant?” and give you information about how to make your life better today.