Some claim that alcohol gives them a boost. Others use it to relax and fall asleep. Is alcohol a stimulant or a depressant? And what should you do if you develop an addiction to this drug?
Why the Answer is Not Clear-Cut
Scientists acknowledge that alcohol has two effects. Both appear to be contradictory. One offers stimulant characteristics while the other one sedates the central nervous system. Is alcohol a stimulant for some while others experience its effects as a depressant only? The scientists noted that some people exhibit aggressive behavior after drinking. That goes hand in hand with an increase in heart rate, which would identify the drug as a stimulant. Others, however, present with a marked slowing of cognitive functions and motor skills. These attributes hint at the possibility of a sedative effect.
Is Alcohol a Stimulant at Low Doses Only?
The experts suggest that people with a risk of developing an alcohol use disorder will see the stimulant effect. Those without a predisposition for the condition may be more likely to experience the sedative side of the drug. Others believe that at a low dose, alcohol can have stimulating effects on some personality types. But when you ingest more of the drug than your body can metabolize quickly, its sedating effects kick in.
Intoxication Reinforces Alcohol Abuse
Is alcohol a stimulant drug that you can control? Many would like to think so. Yet like so many others, it’s a drug that gradually leads to tolerance and addiction. Your body slowly develops an immunity to the alcohol. As a result, you need to drink more to feel the stimulant effects. Because you crave the exhilaration that the drug gives you, you think nothing of it. But science has now learned that the stimulant qualities only apply as your blood alcohol level increases. When it decreases, the sedative effects strengthen. Because you don’t want the party to end, you keep drinking in the hopes of chasing the high. One of the neurotransmitters that the drug now targets is norepinephrine. Soon, you crave alcohol just to experience the high. When you don’t follow through, you suffer from withdrawal symptoms.
Help Begins at Detox
An alcohol use disorder is one of the addictions that are dangerous to treat yourself. Detox for alcohol requires medical supervision because of possible side effects such as seizures and delirium tremens (DTs). At a detox facility, experts help you end your physical dependence safely by offering treatments such as:
- Medical detox monitoring, which promotes physical safety
- Administration of pain relievers for comfort
- Addiction counseling sessions
- Family therapy
- Dual diagnosis assessment and management if needed