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Is Alcohol a Stimulant or Depressant?

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?

When broken down scientifically, alcohol is, in fact, a depressant. The more alcohol you drink, the more it depresses the functions of your body. It will slow your heart rate down significantly if you drink in excess. It can even go so far as to decrease your ability to breathe or even stay conscious. Many people feel a little extra pep when they first drink some alcohol. However, this effect is short-lived. It does not take long for the depressant effects to begin to take over. That is why driving is so dangerous after just a few drinks. It slows your ability to react and inhibits your ability to make sound judgment calls. This can put you and those around you in a dangerous situation.

What Effects Does Alcohol Give?

Alcohol alters both your brain and your nervous system. It just depends on how much alcohol you have as far as the degree that your body gets altered. The more alcohol you have, the more significant the effects of the alcohol are. If you drink too much alcohol, your body will become completely sedated.

Here are some of the effects of alcohol starting with the mildest and progressing to more serious effects:

  • Lowered ability to make good choices
  • Struggles focusing
  • Decreased depth-perception
  • Heart rate increases, then slowly decreases as alcohol intake increases
  • Slurring speech
  • Coordination problems
  • Digestive tract issues (vomiting and diarrhea occur frequently)
  • Mood changes
  • Lower than normal body temperature
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Struggles staying conscious
  • Memory loss
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Decreased ability to retain information
  • Liver problems
  • Stroke
  • Heart problems
  • Death

This list is full of a lot of health issues that can result from alcohol. However, it is only a small portion of all of the issues that alcohol can lead to. The occasional drink is typically not a problem that will result in long-term negative effects of alcohol. What is a problem is chronic drinking or binge drinking on a regular or semi-regular basis. Your body can only handle so much alcohol. The more you drink and the less time off you give your body, the more your body will struggle and the worse the effects are likely to become.

When Does Alcohol Become Dangerous?

Alcohol truly becomes dangerous when you drink to excess regularly or when you experience alcohol poisoning. If you’re not an alcoholic, drinking a glass of wine one night a week with dinner is not typically going to cause problems. However, if you are an alcoholic or you drink a bottle of wine each night for weeks or months on end, this is going to result in damage you may not be able to correct. If you drink too much, you could face alcohol poisoning as well. That is when you drink so much that your body shuts down before it can metabolize or process your alcohol.

Here are some common characteristics of alcohol poisoning:

  • Vomiting in excess
  • Bouts with severe confusion
  • Incredibly slow breaths (under eight during a one-minute span)
  • Skin that begins to turn a pale gray or blue color
  • Passing out or the inability to remain conscious
  • Seizures
  • Death

If anyone ever has these symptoms, calling an ambulance immediately is necessary. If the person does not get to a medical facility quickly, the alcohol could slow their body down so much that it stops functioning altogether.

Stop the Worries Over Alcohol By Coming to Compass Detox in Florida

Alcohol is a powerful drug. It can raise you up for a short time, and it can keep you down for a lot longer. It will leave you struggling with how you feel about yourself or your situation if you let it. You can also struggle with many health issues if your addiction is not treated and stopped.

Giving up alcohol is not easy, but it is worth it. Turn to the experienced professionals here at Compass Detox today. Let us help walk you through the alcohol withdrawal process and guide you towards a recovered existence. Not everyone knows what having a happy, sober life is all about. However, you can be one of the people that just that. Learn how much more you can get out of life by living it and calling the shots you want to call. Stop letting alcohol decide what you do or where you go. Call us at 800-26-DETOX or email us at [email protected] today. You can also sign up for help on our website. The moment you contact us is the moment you begin your new life. Take charge of your future and start living again. We can help.


  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-alcohol-a-stimulant
  2. https://www.alcohol.org/effects/
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-poisoning/symptoms-causes/syc-20354386