The confusion on whether alcohol is a stimulant or a depressant has made many people make the wrong choices. Unlike what many people think, alcohol is a depressant and not a stimulant. The fact that many users tend to feel confident, happy, and uninhibited has made many users assume that alcohol is a stimulant.

The reality is that alcohol will mimic the effects of stimulants and seem to give you a high feeling when it isn’t. When the effects finally kick in, chances are that you will start expressing depressing effects. These effects are mostly felt after the withdrawal effects set in, usually the next day.

Note that not all people react in the same manner to alcohol. Some people instantly feel the depressant effect, while others feel calm and use alcohol to help them get over their anxiety. Some people get to sleep when they are intoxicated. Regardless of whether the alcohol makes you feel energized or depressed, it is important to appreciate the effects of the substance. The effects can be stimulating or depressing based on the effect it has on the users.

What are Stimulants

These substances stimulate the body leading to an increase in energy. Stimulants come in different forms and can be both legal and illicit. The most common stimulants you may come across include:

  • Amphetamines (Ritalin, Adderall, and other ADHD medications)
  • Methamphetamine (meth)
  • Caffeine
  • Cocaine
  • Crack cocaine
  • Nicotine
  • Ecstasy (MDMA, Molly, X)

Illegal stimulants lead to an overproduction of dopamine hence the high addiction rates with such substances. They tend to increase the working of the central nervous system. Stimulants have several side effects, including:

  • Increasing users’ heart rate
  • Raising user’s blood pressure
  • Increasing breathing speed and making users breathe faster
  • Making users feel euphoric
  • Decreasing user’s needs for sleep and food

Most people abuse these stimulants for recreational purposes. Nicotine and caffeine are mild stimulants that ensure staying alert but will not cause adverse effects.

What are Depressants

Depressants tend to depress the brain. They will slow the central nervous system and communicate with the brain to release dopamine for different reasons. Usually, they trigger dopamine release to help calm and cool down users and can help relieve anxiety for a short duration. They include:

Common depressant drugs include:

  • Alcohol
  • Heroin and other opioids
  • Benzodiazepines ( Ativan, Xanax, Valium)
  • GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate)
  • Barbiturates (ex. phenobarbital, amobarbital, secobarbital)

It is important to exercise caution when taking depressants. Too much depressant leads to respiratory risks, especially when an overdose occurs.

Alcohol as a Stimulant

Alcohol can act as a stimulant when it releases euphoric effects, which are often what most users desire. When alcohol is consumed, the feel-good hormone dopamine is released, and triggers increased energy.

Alcohol as a Depressant

Addicts who consume alcohol for its depressant effects think it is calming and helps them sleep better, but the opposite is true. They may struggle with several conditions, including coma, respiratory conditions and even death in extreme cases. It helps to identify alcohol abuse signs and get help before things get out of hand. Regardless of whether you use it as a depressant or stimulant, the final results are not encouraging. Find a facility that cares about your sobriety goals. Call us today to help yu start your journey to recovery.