Is alcohol a stimulant? And is alcohol classified as a stimulant? Alcohol is not a stimulant; it is a depressant. Yet differentiating between stimulants and depressants is sometimes difficult. Now, let’s take a closer look at depressants and stimulants, how both types of drugs work, and their respective side effects.
What Is Alcohol?
Alcohol is a drug that impacts a person’s mind. It often affects a person’s ability to think rationally and may interfere with his or her judgment. In some instances, alcohol results in disturbed perceptions, slurred speech, and unsteady movement as well.
A single glass of beer or wine is sometimes used to help a person relax. If a person continues to consume alcoholic over the course of several hours, however, he or she may start to lose coordination and control.
An alcohol overdose may occur if an individual consumes an excess amount of alcohol. In this instance, a person experiences severe pain, and he or she may become unconscious. An alcohol overdose can also be fatal.
What Is Considered to Be a “Dangerous” Amount of Alcohol?
The amount of alcohol in different alcoholic beverages varies. For example, beer and wine may contain anywhere from 2% to 20% alcohol content. Comparatively, distilled drinks and liquor may contain an alcohol content of up to 50%.
How a person responds to alcohol varies based on the individual, his or her overall health, and other factors. Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is a common measurement used to evaluate alcohol’s impact on an individual.
BAC refers to the percent of blood concentrated with alcohol. For instance, if an individual has a BAC of .10, .1% of his or her bloodstream is composed of alcohol.
The following list explains common BAC levels:
- .020: At this point, light to moderate drinkers start to feel the initial effects of alcohol.
- .040: An individual may start to feel relaxed.
- .060: Alcohol starts to impair an individual’s judgement.
- .080: Alcohol impairs a person’s muscle coordination and ability to drive; this is the legal intoxication level in many states.
- .120: An individual may start to vomit due to excess alcohol consumption.
- .150: An individual may struggle to stand, walk, and maintain balance and coordination.
- .200: An individual may black out.
- .300: An individual may lose consciousness.
- .400: An individual may lose consciousness and puts himself or herself at risk of dying.
- .450: An individual stops breathing; this is typically a fatal BAC for most people.
A person’s BAC is tested if police believe he or she may be intoxicated or if an individual is hospitalized due to physical symptoms associated with alcohol abuse.
What Is a Depressant?
Depressants, also referred to as “downers,” impact the central nervous system. They block messages from the brain’s nerve receptors and inhibit brain activity and awareness.
Depressants are sometimes used to treat symptoms associated with various disorders, such as:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
In addition to alcohol, barbiturates and benzodiazepines are among the most common depressant drugs.
Alcohol impacts a person’s ability to think clearly and act rationally. Some people consume alcohol in the hopes of becoming more alert and feeling energized, but excess alcohol consumption typically leads to loss of coordination and control.
Barbiturates are classified as sedative-hypnotics. They are generally injected into the veins or taken in a pill form and, like alcohol, are frequently considered “brain relaxers.”
Benzodiazepines are often used to treat anxiety and insomnia. They trigger a tranquilizing chemical in the brain, and when mixed with alcohol, can be fatal.
Depressant Side Effects
Common depressant side effects include:
- Impaired coordination
- Slurred speech
- Impaired memory
- Reduced blood pressure and/or heart rate
- Depressed breathing
- Mood swings
- Dry mouth
A person who continuously takes depressants may need to increase his or her dose over time to achieve the same effects. Ongoing depressant abuse may also increase a person’s risk of dependence and withdrawal if he or she suddenly stops using a depressant drug.
Additionally, an individual can overdose on depressants. In this instance, an individual consumes too much of a depressant, which causes his or her breathing to slow down or stop. This leads to hypoxia, a condition that prevents oxygen from reaching the body’s tissues. Hypoxia may cause short- and long-term health problems, including nervous system and brain damage.
What Is a Stimulant?
Stimulants, also referred to as “uppers,” increase activity in the brain. As a result, they are often used to improve awareness and alertness.
Common stimulants include:
- Caffeine: Caffeine is found in coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and other everyday beverages and foods and is one of the most widely used psychoactive drugs in the world.
- Cocaine: Cocaine is an addictive stimulant drug that can be snorted through the nose, rubbed onto the gums, or injected into the bloodstream. It works quickly and delivers a high that often lasts up to one hour.
- Nicotine: Nicotine simultaneously acts as a stimulant and sedative. It releases adrenaline that stimulates the body. At the same time, nicotine releases the brain chemical dopamine, resulting in a pleasurable feeling.
- Methamphetamine: Methamphetamine is a potent stimulant available in several forms, including speed and crystal meth. It helps release dopamine, serotonin, and other brain neurotransmitters, leading to increased alertness and energy.
- Adderall: Adderall is a prescription medication used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In some instances, Adderall is also used to treat sleep disorders.
Stimulants are among the most frequently abused drugs in the United States. They can cause a wide range of short- and long-term side effects, too.
Stimulant Side Effects
Common stimulant side effects include:
- Increased blood pressure and/or heart rate
- High body temperature
- Muscle tremors
- Upset stomach
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
Ongoing stimulant abuse increases a person’s risk of experiencing one or more of the following long-term health problems:
- Breathing issues
- Cerebral hemorrhage
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Muscle deterioration
There are many psychological side effects associated with stimulant abuse, too. These side effects include:
Over time, a person who constantly uses stimulants is prone to drug tolerance, dependence, and addiction.
Stimulant tolerance occurs when a person regularly uses a stimulant. In this instance, an individual may need to increase the amount and frequency of stimulant use to obtain the same effects that he or she achieved in the past.
Following tolerance, an individual may become physically dependent on a stimulant. At this point, an individual may experience depression, low energy, and other stimulant withdrawal symptoms if he or she goes even a few hours without drugs.
Finally, stimulant addiction is characterized by the need to seek out stimulants, despite the fact that an individual understands the negative consequences associated with the drugs. If a person is struggling with stimulant addiction, this individual likely spends most of his or her time trying to acquire and use stimulants.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment Options
Alcohol addiction is a serious problem, and the longer it goes undiagnosed and untreated, the worse it becomes. If an individual understands the treatment options that are available, he or she can take steps to address an alcohol addiction.
In some instances, people choose rehabilitation programs to treat alcohol addiction. Some alcohol addicts use therapy to cope with their addictive behaviors and find ways to manage these behaviors as well.
Regardless of alcohol addiction treatment, it is paramount to begin a personalized treatment plan. An alcohol addiction affects a person’s body and mind, and the right treatment program is designed to help this individual achieve long-lasting addiction relief. Thus, the program is personalized to a patient and allows him or her to manage an alcohol addiction for years to come.
How to Treat Depressant and Stimulant Addiction
Misuse of depressants and stimulants is a major problem in the United States. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has estimated that approximately 18 million people misused prescription depressants, stimulants, and opioids at least once in 2017. Yet few treatment options are available that have been shown to help individuals beat their depressant and stimulant addictions.
At Clear Sky Recovery, we offer ibogaine therapy for depressant and stimulant addiction. Our ibogaine therapy program is medically based and backed by highly trained researchers, scientists, clinicians, and support staff. Plus, we offer a safe, comfortable environment designed to help individuals achieve long-term addiction relief.
Communication is a key tenet of our ibogaine therapy program. We are open and honest with our patients and ensure they know exactly what to expect before they begin ibogaine therapy. If a patient ever has concerns or questions at any point during an ibogaine treatment, we are ready to address them as well.
Each patient undergoes a personalized ibogaine therapy program, too. We understand no two patients are exactly alike, and each patient takes his or her own path to overcome his or her addiction. Meanwhile, we offer comprehensive support to each patient at each stage of his or her ibogaine treatment journey. We also provide an all-inclusive detox facility where patients can enjoy in-room video and audio systems, high-speed internet access, and other luxury accommodations.
If you or someone you know is dealing with a depressant or stimulant addiction, Clear Sky Recovery is ready to help. Our ibogaine therapy program is designed to help each patient identify the root cause of his or her addictive behaviors, and ultimately, embark on a path to long-lasting addiction recovery. To find out more about our ibogaine treatment options for depressant and stimulant addiction, please contact us today at 305.901.5371.