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.
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.
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.
Anyone who has struggled with the idea of giving up alcohol, often says they struggled due to fear. What most people fear is not knowing what their alcohol withdrawal experience will be like. The truth is, each person going through alcohol withdrawals have a unique experience. It depends on how long they drank, how much they drank, and several other factors. Those who drank for a long time or drank a lot of alcohol regularly seem to have the most severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can sometimes include hallucinations. To find out more, read on.
The Types of Hallucinations Caused By Alcohol Withdrawals
Let us start by making sure that you know that alcohol withdrawals is something you do not want to go through alone. Ideally, everyone who gives up drinking alcohol after even a slight addiction should do so under medical supervision. Typically, the hallucinations that some people experience are part of the reason why this is so necessary.
Since alcohol withdrawal can be rough on your body, it is best to have an idea of things to do to keep your heart rate and blood pressure down. Make a list before even going to alcohol detox or rehab, if you can.
When a person decides to stop drinking, they are likely to experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The detox process for alcohol can take several days or several weeks, depending on multiple individual factors. Alcohol detox will be different for everybody, but there are some common symptoms to expect during this time. Keep reading to learn more about the timeline for alcohol detox and treatment options for those with an alcohol use disorder.
What is alcohol detox?
Alcohol detox is an important step in treating an alcohol use disorder. The process involves flushing alcohol from the body completely and results in withdrawal symptoms. When someone’s body becomes dependent on alcohol over time, they develop alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder. Because your body is receiving chemicals from alcohol, your brain stops producing those specific chemicals, causing a dependency.
Making the decision to quit drinking is far from easy, but it is crucial to a person’s health and overall wellbeing. Prolonged alcohol consumption in excessive amounts leads to a buildup of toxins and waste products in the body. Alcohol detox begins the addiction treatment process as the body rids itself of toxins.
There isn’t any doubt that people who suffer from an alcohol use disorder feel a lot better after they stop. There are several recovery stories demonstrating how incredible life may feel when someone has placed their addiction to alcohol behind them. That being said, it's important to note that there’s frequently an extremely difficult phase an alcoholic undergoes before they start to feel better. This occurs directly after cessation, typically within less than one day since their last drink. It’s called Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome. Individuals who’ve only used alcohol for a brief time, or who’ve only consumed small amounts of alcohol, might not experience the most unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Some will only suffer a “crash” or a hangover right after intoxication wears off, which they might “sleep off” during the weekend. For the infrequent or limited drinkers that typically only drink for a limited period of time, they may be lucky and have the ability to stop and not undergo the worst of what alcohol withdrawal has to offer.
What Types of Symptoms Often Accompany Alcohol Withdrawals?
While the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal vary greatly between individuals, there are some common effects that many people experience. Here are some of the more common effects that come with stopping the consumption of alcohol.
Headaches that range from mild to migraine-like
Anxiety that can range from a slight nuisance to all-encompassing
Struggles with getting to sleep or staying asleep
Stomach upset, which may also include diarrhea and/or vomiting
Hallucinations can happen in anyone, but typically happen with those who have consumed considerable amounts of alcohol in their lifetime
Sweating that does not seem to stop even when the person cools off
Mild shakes that can make sitting still difficult
Most symptoms of alcohol withdrawal begin by the time the person hits 24 hours without a drink. In most cases, these symptoms subside within 5-7 days. However, in some of the more serious instances, these effects can go on for much longer. Some patients have actually struggled with some of these symptoms for weeks after their last drink.