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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
When cutting alcohol out of your life, it can lead to a wide array of symptoms. Your body becomes dependent on the alcohol over time. Taking that alcohol away means your body is going to have to readjust. Many people struggle with the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. That is why going to an alcohol detox facility or rehabilitation facility to stop using or abusing alcohol is so important. If you want to get over an alcohol addiction, we are here to help. Here are some of the most important things to know about alcohol withdrawal.
The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal a person faces is going to be as unique as the person giving up alcohol. Each person’s journey through alcohol detox will depend on many different factors. These include:
Alcohol consumption is common in the United States. In fact, according to data reported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 86.3 percent of adults in the United States have consumed alcohol during their lives, and just over half had consumed alcohol within the previous month, as of 2018.
While drinking a glass of wine with dinner or occasionally going out for a drink can be part of a healthy lifestyle, some people may drink excessively, which can become problematic. In 2018, 26.5 percent of American adults reported binge drinking within a given month, and nearly 7 percent admitted to drinking heavily, which experts define as five or more instances of binge drinking in a month.
Binging and drinking heavily may be socially acceptable in American culture, but they are concerning from a public health standpoint. People who continuously engage in heavy drinking are at risk of developing an alcohol use disorder, which is the term professionals use to describe a diagnosable alcohol addiction. Such a condition can have significant consequences and requires professional intervention.