One question that addiction and substance abuse specialists hear regularly is: is alcohol a depressant? For a lot of people, alcohol can be a pick-me-up, a way to relax, or even a form of celebration. Those same people might also be surprised to learn that alcohol is indeed a depressant. But what does that mean exactly?
If you have ever found yourself wondering “is alcohol a depressant”, then you may already be aware of what depressants are. For those that aren’t, depressants are a class of drugs that dampen, or inhibit, the central nervous system’s (CNS) functions. Put simply, depressants slow and impair our psychological and physical activity.
CNS depressants lessen the activity in our bran, reducing our awareness by blocking the messages sent from our nerve receptors to portions of the brain. In practical applications, this leads to skewed perceptions, judgements, emotional reactions, and altered movements. That’s why someone who is drunk has trouble walking straight, listening fully, and speaking clearly. It is also the reason that people make seemingly stupid, or out-of-character, choices after drinking. In fact, when a person consumes a depressant, like alcohol, they instantly increase their risk of health issues, injury, and death.
Other depressants include tranquilizers, anesthetics, and sedatives.
Frequently, when some asks “is alcohol a depressant,” what they are really asking is “will alcohol make me feel depressed?” While some people may become upset or weepy when they drink alcohol, the substance itself isn’t responsible for making people feel sad. When we call alcohol a “depressant,” we are only referring to the effect it has on the central nervous system.
Depressants can make a person feel rather happy, even euphoric. It can relax users and put their mind and body at ease. Unfortunately, this is only true when depressants are used correctly and in moderation, or when they aren’t taken in excess. When depressants like alcohol are misused, or used heavily, they can make users feel sad, depressed, and can even threaten the life of the user. While alcohol is legal, it is extremely addictive, and when someone abuses alcohol over a long period of time, this can result in diagnosable depression.
Put simply, when taken in moderation, alcohol generally will not a make a person depressed. But it can lead to symptoms of depression when abused.
As we alluded to previously, alcohol can create some rather positive feelings when taken correctly. When depressants are used to create a feeling of intoxication, however, a number of unfortunate side-effects will start to present themselves.
Yes. Alcohol is a depressant, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As long as depressants are taken as instructed and in moderation, they can be a great tool. Unfortunately, depressants like alcohol are rarely used correctly. Even worse, there is a large portion of the population that are psychologically incapable of drinking in moderation. This condition is referred to as alcoholism, but its really just another form of addiction. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with alcoholism, reach out to us! South Beach Detox offers a wide range of alcohol detox and treatment programs. We are here to help. There is always a way out of addiction, and sobriety is right around the corner if you are willing to stop now.
Don’t drink and drive, and please drink responsibly.