Is alcohol a stimulant or a depressant? People often say that alcohol puts them in a good mood. They feel happier. Alcohol causes relaxation slowing down both reflexes and brain activity. Because of this, there is confusion about whether alcohol is a depressant or a stimulant. In actuality, it falls into the category of a depressant.
What is a Depressant
Is alcohol a depressant in the same way as other drugs in this category? To determine this, we need to define depressant. The medical community defines a depressant as something acting to slow down the nervous system. For instance, this can include things like:
- Loss of inhibitions
- Slurred speech
- Slowed reactions
Alcohol can also cause coma or death when you overdose, something every other depressant also threatens. Let’s see how alcohol works in the brain to accomplish these things.
How Alcohol Affects the Body and Brain
Alcohol first enters your stomach and then follows your digestive tract into the small intestine. It is here that eighty percent of it finds its way into various blood vessels, which lead throughout the body. That includes the brain. Here is where confusion arises about whether alcohol is a stimulant or depressant? Once the alcohol reaches the brain, it starts triggering several chemical reactions. Dopamine and serotonin, the body’s “feel-good” chemicals, activate producing that first feeling of lightness. They promote relaxation enough to cover anxiety but not enough to fall asleep. Next, GABA, your body’s slow-down chemical, releases. It produces a state where reflexes are slower, and your thought processes slow down. If enough of it is triggered, you will sleep. Glutamate, which is the body’s speed-up chemical, is stifled at this point.
During this period, you find many who are drunk crying and feeling sorry about things. Their mood has significantly fallen. Is alcohol a depressant that causes this depression, or does depression cause this type of reaction when the alcohol is ingested? Let’s take a look.
Is Alcohol a Depressant Causing Depression?
There is no clear cut answer about whether clinical depression worsens the effects of alcohol or if alcohol causes depression. However, individuals with alcohol dependence suffer from depression four times more than the general population. This could be a combination effect. Many people use alcohol to cover up the signs of depression. They seek that initial feeling produced by serotonin releasing. However, over time, the more they consume, the less is produced. Thus, the good feeling doesn’t occur as frequently. This can lead to a worsened feeling of depression overall.
On the other hand, a person may begin drinking first. Over time, a combination of the reduced serotonin adds to the complications that often come with alcohol dependence. These can include financial problems, law concerns, family problems, and health issues. In this case, the depression results from alcohol use, but there may have been an underlying predisposition to the disorder. We need more studies on this matter.
Granite Recovery Centers Gives You Choices
If you or your loved one has alcohol dependency issues, it is never too early or too late to seek answers. At Granite Recovery Centers, we offer hope and healing. We also offer many locations so you can get help where you need it. Contacting us today 855.712.7784 can have you facing a brighter future tomorrow. Don’t let alcohol control your life any longer. We offer you choices to move forward.