Your friend has a drink. S/He becomes more talkative and gestures become animated. S/He’s up for a night on the town. But after a few more drinks, actions seem to slow down; is alcohol a depressant after all?
Stimulant or Depressant?
Stimulants affect the body by flooding it with energy through the artificial release of dopamine. Examples of drugs falling into this category include cocaine and methamphetamines. Depressants act as sedatives. They fall under the same category as opiates and barbiturates.
When is Alcohol a Depressant?
It is interesting to note that alcohol can act as a stimulant initially. After a drink or two, someone may lose some inhibitions and becomes more sociable. In fact, alcohol acts on the part of the brain that controls self-consciousness or reserve. It “depresses” it by interrupting gamma-Aminobutyric acid neurotransmitters.
These substances directly affect the central nervous system. For this reason, ingesting one or two drinks may result in a light buzz that appears as though it stimulates the body. When the drinker reaches the tipping point, the excess alcohol shows its real depressant qualities.
- Slowing of bodily functions. You’ve heard someone slurring her or his words when talking after drinking even a little too much. Gait becomes unsteady. Processing information slows down as well, which is one of the reasons why drunk driving has proven to be so deadly.
- Inhibitions give way to lapses in judgment. Going from being the wallflower at a party to turning into someone who picks fights is a possible scenario. Depending on someone’s overall makeup, the lowering of inhibitions can result in overly affectionate or angry behavior.
- Elimination of rational thought processes. So, is alcohol a depressant? Brain scans prove that it represses the functioning of the prefrontal cortex, which governs decision-making. By affecting the central nervous system as a sedative, it allows for the performance of actions that someone – when not under the influence of the drug – would never consider.
Because the initial effect of alcohol is the gradual decrease of inhibitions, which many find pleasurable, it’s not surprising that the substance is so addictive. Even those who feel embarrassed by the ways they act after drinking too much will usually return for another round of drinks on another day.
Quit Chasing the Illusion of Artificial Relaxation!
We’ve answered the question when is alcohol a depressant; we’ve also shown that its effects – at first – mimic those of a stimulant. This latter quality makes it so easy to become addicted to the original effects. However, you can stop chasing the destructive illusion of a euphoric high today. Undergoing alcohol detox with Serenity House Detox’ medical experts creates a solid foundation for your recovery. Dial 866-294-5306 to kick the habit for good