Is Alcohol a Stimulant or Depressant?

More than 85% of Americans have drunk alcohol at some point in their lives.

Some drink because they believe that alcohol will wake them up and make them the life of the party. Others choose to drink because it helps them relax and fall asleep.

But is alcohol a stimulant or depressant?

Not many people understand how alcohol actually works. If you want to understand more, keep reading and find out the facts about alcohol and whether it is an upper or a downer.

Is Alcohol a Stimulant?

Alcohol has many qualities, which like stimulants, can create feelings of euphoria, overconfidence, and energy within the body. However, this is only a very temporary effect, often from the first drink you take.

Dopamine is a hormone that is released when we are having fun and a good time and is itself a stimulant within the body. When you start drinking, the release of dopamine may give you the sensation of being stimulated, but in reality, it is not a direct result of the effects of the alcohol.

As the effects of dopamine can be fleeting when they wear off, you may think that you need to drink more to reignite the effect.

However, by this point, the downer or actual depressant effects of alcohol will be starting to set in. Alcohol will no longer give you the stimulation you crave, and a downward spiral can begin.

This is because, in truth, alcohol is not a stimulant; it is a depressant.

The Depressive Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol can significantly affect someone’s mood, behavior, and cognitive ability. Like many types of depressants, it can induce a state of relaxation. However, these effects tend to be quickly replaced by a sense of stress or anxiety when the alcohol wears off and is replaced by a hangover or feelings of withdrawal.

Depressants lower your overall heart rate and blood pressure, which gives the sedative effect. However, the negative impact of this is a loss of coordination, drowsiness, disorientation, and sometimes a loss of inhibition. It can leave you feeling tired and depressed as it will affect both your mind and body as a whole.

Consuming large amounts of alcohol will suppress the production of the dopamine hormone, thereby significantly increasing the feelings of sadness and depression. This can lead to feelings of hopelessness and bouts of extreme emotionality, including outbreaks of uncontrolled anger.

If your blood alcohol level exceeds 0.2 mg/l, you could experience alcohol poisoning, slip into a coma and ultimately die.

Life Factors Vary Effects

There are different factors that may mitigate or worsen the effects of alcohol as a depressant. These include your size, age, sex, and weight. Scientists also believe that we may all have a unique body chemistry that may change the effects on each of us personally.

Some of us may feel the stimulant effects of alcohol more than the depressant effects. This comes down to the components of your body chemistry.

Is Alcohol a Stimulant or Depressant?

In answer to the question ‘Is alcohol a stimulant or depressant?’ we can confirm that alcohol is absolutely a depressant. If you are prone to depressive tendencies already, it may be best to avoid depressant substances like alcohol.

Do you suspect that you may have a problem with alcohol and would like to find a way to stop drinking?

If so, please register for my free quit drinking webinar that can help you learn how to stop drinking without a need for willpower.