Do You Think Alcohol Is A Depressant? Published April 16, 2021 By Addiction Helpline America


Is Alcohol a Depressant?

Many people drink alcohol for a number of different reasons. Some people use it as a form of "liquid courage" when they are headed out for a night on the town. Other people use it to relax after a long week of hard work.

However, the simple truth is that if you find yourself using alcohol regularly to augment your mood, you may be experiencing a certain amount of dependency on alcohol. Alcoholism can be a hard thing to identify and a hard thing to manage but getting the facts about the substance itself can help you determine whether or not you are using alcohol safely and responsibly, or if you are not.

What is a depressant?

One of the best places to start is to figure out what alcohol is really identified as. Simply, alcohol is a depressant. This does not, however, mean that alcohol will depress your mood. Depressants is simply the word that scientists and medical professionals give a certain substance if that substance is known to depress the human central nervous system (CNS). This means that depressants will impar and slow the brain activity and general awareness because it blocks messages coming from nerve receptors to the brain.

Overall, depressants can block and change a person’s judgements, perceptions, movements, senses and emotions.

So, while depressants will not necessarily make you feel depressed, they will instead basically depress or reduce the functionality of your body and mind. That is why driving and operating heavy machinery is so dangerous - and in many cases against the law - to do while or after drinking.

How does alcohol work as a depressant?

Despite the fact that people use alcohol as a pick-me-up before heading out or going to a sporting event or live show, it is definitely a CNS depressant. Just like other depressants, alcohol will quickly start to depress and slow both physical and psychological activity.

Due to the way alcohol slows down a person’s brain activity, it will quickly start to reduce a person’s ability to make sound and rational decisions. It can also lead to a reduction in inhibitions as well as distorted judgement.

Moreover, the more a person drinks, the more their CNS will be depressed which can lead to a parallel reduction in decision-making ability and control over the body. If someone drinks too much, they can experience what is known as a black out. This occurs because of how alcohol impacts the frontal cortex of the brain. This means that while someone is conscious, they will later have no recollection of what they took part in while under the influence. It is a disturbing, scary and dangerous thing to experience.

What are the primary side effects of alcohol?

When it is used in a healthy and moderate way (typically 1-3 drinks over a span of a couple of hours) alcohol and other legal depressants can provide the user with feelings of relaxation and alleviate symptoms of stress or anxiety.

However, if they are abused, these substances can ultimately become dangerous or downright deadly. Overall, here are the most common side effects that are related to alcohol abuse:

  • Slurred speech
  • Mental cloudiness or confusion
  • Impaired coordination or motor skills
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Cognitive and memory impairment
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Slowed or depressed breather
  • Emotional instability and mood swings
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Euphoria
  • Sleepiness
  • Seizures
  • Stopped heart rate
  • As you may have suspected from this list, some of the most severe symptoms come from extreme abuse of alcohol. Beyond that, the combination of a reduced ability to make sound decisions as well as a severe reduction in coordination can lead to incredibly damaging results.

    Often, people who drink too much will wake up the next morning having major regrets over doing or saying certain things that they would have otherwise not said or done had they not abused alcohol. This can lead to the embarrassment, the ruining of a friendship or romantic relationship, or even risking losing your job.

    These outcomes can be serious enough, but alcohol abuse can sadly lead to even more damaging and life-changing experiences.

    For example, someone who has had too many drinks, may lack the decision-making ability to come to the sound conclusion that they are not fit to get behind the wheel and drive home from a bar or club.

    That lack of decision-making on top of a lack to quickly react to stimuli on the road and correct control of the body to drive the vehicle can lead to deadly impacts.

    It's the primary reason why driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated cases come with such heavy potential fines and prison sentences.

    If you or someone you love is experiencing alcohol dependency, there are many avenues to seek help. Consider finding an online on helpline resource to gain access to the help you need.

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