Is Alcohol a Stimulant or Depressant?

group of friends parties and drinks alcohol answering the question is alcohol a stimulant or depressant

Alcohol is a highly addictive substance that is widely available. In fact, it is one of the most popular psychoactive substances, with the majority of American adults consuming alcohol on a regular basis. The difference between social drinking, binge drinking, and alcoholism can sometimes become blurred, especially because alcohol is socially acceptable. So, is alcohol a stimulant or depressant?

Alcohol creates different effects. For some people, alcohol creates feelings of aggression and anger and causes them to turn in to an angry drunk. For others, alcohol can result in a calming effect. How alcohol causes you to feel is unique to your body type, age, gender, and other factors. Because alcohol can cause so many different types of reactions, it can be difficult to understand what type of central nervous system reaction is caused.

Is Alcohol a Stimulant or Depressant?

So, is alcohol a depressant or stimulant?  You may wonder whether alcohol is a depressant or stimulant because it can create both types of intoxicating effects. If you drink, you may experience both stimulating effects and depressant ones. It can be either of these effects that attracts you to alcohol and traps you in the cycle of addiction. Understanding the effect alcohol has on your brain is an important consideration when deciding on an alcohol addiction treatment center in Houston, TX.

Alcohol is classified as a central nervous system depressant. It works by interacting with GABA, which is a type of neurotransmitter. Alcohol results in your brain releasing increased amounts of GABA and dopamine, which can result in physical and psychological dependency.

While alcohol can cause both stimulating and sedative effects, it is considered a depressant because it decreases the amount of glutamate, which is an exhibitory neurotransmitter. Even if you experience stimulating effects when drinking, the more alcohol you consume, the more likely you are to feel depressant effects.

Alcohol can impact your body and mind in other ways, including:

  • Increasing demands on your liver, which can cause permanent damage
  • Physical dependency that causes withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking
  • Significant weight changes
  • Mood swings and behavioral changes
  • Cognitive impairment and memory loss
  • Worsening underlying medical or mental health disorders

What Risks Does Alcoholism Pose?

Alcoholism and alcohol abuse can impact your personal relationships, career, family life, and finances. When you abuse alcohol, you are more likely to engage in risky behaviors. Since alcohol lowers inhibitions, it can impair your judgment. These behaviors can include things like promiscuous sex or driving while intoxicated. When your judgment becomes diminished, you can experience legal problems, relationship problems, and other negative consequences.

Alcohol is filtered through your liver, which ensures that you don’t suffer from ethanol poisoning. Unfortunately, the more you drink, the more work you put your liver through. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse can cause serious damage to your liver, such as fatty liver disease, liver cancer, and cirrhosis. Abruptly quitting alcohol brings on serious and often dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Heavy drinkers are especially recommended to seek medically-supervised alcohol detox to begin their recovery.

Taking the First Step

If you are wondering, is alcohol a stimulant or depressant? The short answer is that it is a central nervous system depressant. The stimulating and depressant effects alcohol produces can result in alcohol dependency. If you are struggling with alcoholism, Kemah Palms Recovery®, a premier Houston, Texas substance abuse facility, is here to help. Call us today today to find out more about our programs and your treatment options.