Depending on your specific situation, you may not readily be able to tell if alcohol is a stimulant or a depressant. Drinking alcohol brings about a myriad of emotions for people. Some people feel peppy and uppity, while others struggle with anxiety and depression. Scientifically, alcohol is a depressant, but it is more complicated than that. Alcohol enhances the mood you are already in for most people. If you were happy before you started drinking, you may be excited and giddy when you drink. However, if you were sullen or angry before you had a drink, that mood may only get worse. The only way to stop alcohol from controlling the mood you show everyone else is to stop drinking altogether.
Is Alcohol a Stimulant?
Alcohol does have some stimulating effects. Many people who drink wind up with higher heart rates and lower inhibitions, making them appear to be more energetic. However, that is not a simple way of defining what alcohol does to the body. Instead, it is just some of the effects that some people go through whenever they have a drink in their system. Alcohol will speed you up for a short time after having a drink, giving you a tiny bit of energy. However, once you settle into your second or third drink, the depressant effects begin to kick in. Your body will slow, which is why falling asleep is so easy when you have been drinking.
Is Alcohol a Depressant?
It is exceedingly rare that someone in Western society will have gone through their life without this being presented as a question. In fact, it is one of the more often debated subjects in addiction. It is clear that as a country we the United States have not given the mental health field the dedicated studying it deserves, and our rate of mental health issues and addiction correspond to this fact.
The question is: How does the fall into addiction happen to some and not to others?
Predisposition to alcoholism has been a much researched topic in both psychological and medical fields, and seems to be correlated somewhat to how much stress someone experiences as baseline. Most of this research that involves intervention has been performed on non-human models. A study performed in 1990 using rhesus monkeys showed that more anxious monkeys were predisposed to increased alcohol consumption. However, when stress was induced in the monkeys by separation, they would increase their intake to the same levels as the naturally anxious monkeys.
When a person comes to a doctor’s office, two things will point toward a diagnosis of alcohol withdrawal: the first is long-term alcohol use with sudden cessation, and the second being symptoms typical of withdrawal (these will be explained in the following paragraphs). For the symptoms, physicians use a largely accepted algorithm known as the CIWA-Ar (Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment) protocol. This survey takes a snapshot of a patient to determine how severe their withdrawal is at a point in time during their visit.
What doctors look for when determining severity of alcohol withdrawal: The categories assessed by the patient include nausea and vomiting, tremor (often in the hands), auditory, tactile or visual hallucinations, sweats, anxiety, headache, agitation, and disorientation. Additionally, the doctor will measure heart rate, blood pressure, and do a physical exam. Each category is measured out of 7 points, with 7 being the worst (the exception to this is disorientation, which is measured out of 4 points). The maximum score in the assessment is a 67, with patients under 10 usually being safe without medication, and with any number over 20 being considered severe withdrawal. However, this scale is meant to determine the severity of withdrawal, and is not as helpful in laying out a timeline of when these symptoms will present. For that, it is more helpful to understand the body’s reaction to the cessation of alcohol use.
Finding out how long alcohol can stay in your system is a common question. After all, you do not want to risk trying to drive if there is still any alcohol left in your system. Unfortunately, the answer depends on many different factors. You need to measure how much you were drinking, the proof of the alcohol, and your body size as starters. How well your kidneys and liver function also factor into how long alcohol can stay in your system. Then there is the factor of how old you are, whether you are male or female, and if you ate anything before or while drinking.
Thankfully, there is a pretty good rule to follow should drinking be a part of your regular routine. Most people will have no residual alcohol left after 2-4 hours if they were drinking a can or two of beer in that time. Anything more than that, the time goes up exponentially. The best way to be sure that there is never any alcohol in your system is to stop drinking. That way, any time you need to go out, you know it is safe to do so without putting yourself, or anyone else around you, at risk.
What is Methadone?
Methadone is a prescription medication that seems to have received more attention in recent years. According to experts writing for the Western Journal of Medicine, methadone belongs to the opiate class of drugs, and it is comparable to morphine. This prescription medication does have legitimate medical uses and is safe and effective when people use it as a doctor prescribes it, but for some people, it may become addictive and dangerous.
Medical Uses of Methadone
What is methadone used for? One of the most common uses of methadone is for the long-term treatment of addiction to opiates like heroin. Methadone is used as a maintenance medication to help people remain abstinent from heroin and other opiates. It promotes abstinence because it has long-lasting effects and stops the unpleasant symptoms of opiate withdrawal; methadone also reduces heroin cravings and stops people from feeling high if they do take heroin, per the authors writing for the Western Journal of Medicine.
There are many terms thrown around in relation to drug abuse, and it can be difficult to discern what they mean. Drug addiction is an already misunderstood disease, and the confusion regarding terminology only adds to the problem. While drug dependence and drug addiction are often related, they do not mean the same thing. Keep reading to learn more about the difference between drug dependence and drug addiction.
What is drug dependence?
Drug dependence involves a physical condition. Repeated exposure to a drug or frequent usage causes the body to adapt to the drug. The easiest way to identify drug dependence is through withdrawal symptoms when the drug is no longer used.
Suboxone is a medication used to treat addiction to opiates like heroin, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Suboxone contains both buprenorphine and naloxone, and doctors prescribe it to people in addiction treatment to help alleviate opiate withdrawal and cravings.
That being said, buprenorphine itself is a partial opiate, meaning that it can create euphoria, much like heroin, although to a lesser extent. While the effects of Suboxone may not be as strong as with heroin, people still may abuse this medication and become addicted to it. After all, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), labels Suboxone as a Schedule III Controlled Substance, indicating that users can become highly psychologically dependent upon it and develop low to moderate physical dependence upon the drug.
Unfortunately, with dependence comes withdrawal, which means that people may experience uncomfortable symptoms when detoxing off of Suboxone, whether they are using it legally as a doctor prescribes or abusing it in some fashion. Learning more about Suboxone withdrawal can help you to understand this condition better.
According to Harvard Medical School, benzodiazepines are a class of medications primarily used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. They work by increasing the activity of a neurotransmitter, or brain chemical, called GABA, which slows activity in the nervous system and produces a calming effect. These medications can be useful for treating anxiety and related issues, but with long-term use, people may become addicted to them and undergo withdrawal if they attempt to stop using benzodiazepines. It is critical to understand the risk of addiction and withdrawal that comes with benzodiazepine use in order to make informed choices about the best course of action for treating conditions like anxiety.
Before learning about benzodiazepine withdrawal, it is first important to understand why these drugs are addictive and lead to dependence. The reason for benzodiazepine dependence is that the brain and body adapt to the presence of these drugs, and they become accustomed to increased GABA activity. This means that over time, the body cannot produce enough GABA on its own, and it becomes dependent upon benzodiazepines to increase GABA activity and calm the body. Once the body becomes dependent on benzodiazepines, if a person stops using these drugs, there will not be enough GABA activity to maintain normal functioning. This causes the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms associated with benzodiazepines.
Supporting a friend or family member through detox from alcohol can be a very difficult process. While you want to help your friend through their struggle, alcohol detox requires a lot of patience and preparation for all involved. Alcohol withdrawal can be very dangerous and even life-threatening, so it is crucial to learn as much as you can from a qualified medical professional.
Helping your friend or loved one recognize that they have an alcohol use disorder or dependence on alcohol is an important first step. However, alcohol detox is not something to enter lightly. Understanding the effects of alcohol detox and the symptoms of withdrawal can help you support your loved one through their journey of recovery.