Is alcohol a depressant? Yes, this drug is classified as a depressant. The alcohol in drinks consumed by humans is actually called ethanol. It’s not the same as the alcohol used in cosmetic, medical and cleaning products. It should also not be confused with methanol or wood alcohol, a deadly poison. Ethanol is also used in certain industries, for example, it’s the preferred diluent and fixative for many perfumes. Alcohol not intended for human consumption is often called denatured alcohol. This means it contains toxic additives not safe to ingest.
How does Alcohol Affect the Body?
Alcohol, like all depressant drugs, slows down the brain and central nervous system. It does this by interfering with chemical messages traveling to and within the brain. This may cause a variety of effects depending upon how much alcohol has been consumed. Many people think alcohol is a stimulant because it makes some people begin to move around and talk excitedly. This effect comes from alcohol’s effects on the parts of the brain controlling inhibitions and impulse control. Because the person isn’t thinking clearly, they may do things they would never do while sober.
Alcohol also affects the parts of the brain controlling reflexes and judgment. This is why it’s so particularly dangerous to drive while intoxicated. You do not have to be drunk to be a danger on the road. Most states set a limit of .08 alcohol in the blood. It doesn’t take much to reach this level, and the body can only break down the equivalent of about one standard drink (containing about one ounce of alcohol per hour for men. For women, this rate may be slower. Women tend to get drunk faster and eliminate alcohol at a lower rate when compared to men.
Giving a drunk person coffee or shoving them into a cold shower may appear to sober them up, but it really doesn’t. Nothing but time will rid the bloodstream of consumed alcohol. This is why jails often have drunk tanks. They know this.
Alcohol is extremely damaging to the body when used in large amounts. While a glass of wine at dinner may not be harmful and may even have health benefits, excessive alcohol consumption is never beneficial. Too much alcohol may damage the heart and also cause cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis is a disease where healthy liver tissue is replaced by fatty deposits. The liver is the body’s detoxifier and that’s not all. It also manufactures important enzymes.
Other Depressant Drugs
Other depressant drugs include opioids and benzodiazepines. Both of these act to slow the central nervous system, although opioids work differently in the brain than alcohol does. Opioids target and bind to the brain’s opioid receptors; alcohol does not. However, benzodiazepines work similarly in the brain. This is why drugs like Valium and Ativan have side effects similar to those of alcohol. In fact, benzodiazepines, especially Valium or diazepam, are often used to help alcoholics detox. The drug greatly reduces the chances of serious grand mal seizures during the alcohol withdrawal process.
Animals and Alcohol
Some people think it’s funny to feed a dog beer, but it’s not. Dogs are sensitive to the effects of alcohol and will likely become confused when these effects appear. Remember that alcohol is a poison, and keep it away from pets even though they appear to like it.
Some animals in the wild actually do drink alcohol, though. In Malaysia, a type of shrew regularly imbibes fermented palm nectar occurring naturally in the environment. Birds may also consume fermented flower nectar, and certain species of bats are known to favor fermented nectar and fruits. The birds sometimes get so drunk they can’t even fly.
We Can Help
Let us help you with any questions or concerns you have about alcohol. If you’re addicted to this substance, never try to stop on your own. Let us find a treatment and detox facility right near you. Just call us anytime at 833-680-0165 for hope and help to get your life back on track.