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.
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.
It makes a lot of sense to start this talk by defining the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system (known in laymen’s terms as the “fight-or-flight” response) is the body’s activation of processes that prepare itself for demonstrative physical response. This is largely a reflexive response to new and foreign stimuli, and is in constant contact with the bloodstream to monitor the balance of needs. The actions of the sympathetic nervous system are counteracted by the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, or its resting response. A good way to think of this is as a gas (sympathetic) and brake (parasympathetic) in a motor vehicle.
When you make the decision to stop drinking, either gradually or suddenly, you may experience symptoms of withdrawal. While the exact symptoms of withdrawal will be different depending on the severity and longevity of addiction, there are some commonalities for withdrawal. Understanding the symptoms of withdrawal can help you prepare for the journey ahead. Keep reading to learn more about alcohol withdrawals and what to expect during the process.
What causes alcohol withdrawal?
Prolonged use of alcohol or alcohol abuse alters the brain’s chemistry. When copious amounts of alcohol are present or alcohol is used in high volumes, the body has to adapt. The mind adjusts to a new “normal” state with alcohol present. Once alcohol is removed, the body has to readjust to a new state of normal.
When most people think of drug and alcohol withdrawal, they probably picture the initial withdrawal symptoms that occur when a person stops using drugs or alcohol and undergoes the detox process. While these initial withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant and intense, another form of withdrawal comes later. According to the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, a second form of withdrawal, called post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), includes symptoms that occur for several weeks or even months after a person stops using drugs and alcohol. Other names for this condition include post-withdrawal syndrome, prolonged withdrawal syndrome, or protracted withdrawal syndrome, and it most often occurs with alcohol, benzodiazepine, and opiate abuse.
Symptoms of Post-Acute Withdrawal
Post-acute withdrawal symptoms may vary based upon the substance from which a person is withdrawing. According to a report in CNS Drugs, post-acute withdrawal syndrome for alcohol typically involves the following symptoms:
Imagine this: you have a few drinks with some friends and you have a great night. You do this again every weekend. Every weekend turns into weekdays, sometimes with your friends and sometimes in your living room alone. Some days, you start drinking in the morning to get your day started and suddenly, you can’t live without a drink in your hand.
More than 75,000 deaths annually are attributed to the excessive consumption of alcohol, according to Ralph W. Hingson, a Professor at the Boston University School of Public Health. Excessive Alcohol Consumption is also the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
Alcoholism (AUD) is a chronic disease characterized by the inability to control drinking due to both a physical and emotional dependence on alcohol. Those who struggle with alcoholism feel as though they cannot function normally without alcohol. In turn, this affects their professional goals, personal matters, and the family and friends in their lives.