Alcohol is a Depressant


Alcohol is a Depressant

Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows the function of the central nervous system.  Alcohol actually blocks some of the messages trying to get to the brain.  This alters a person’s perceptions, emotions, movement, vision, and hearing.

In very small amounts, alcohol can help a person feel more relaxed or less anxious.  More alcohol causes greater changes in the brain, resulting in intoxication.  People who have overused alcohol may stagger, lose their coordination, and slur their speech.  They will probably be confused and disoriented.  Depending on the person, intoxication can make someone very friendly and talkative or very aggressive and angry.  Reaction times are slowed dramatically — which is why people are told not to drink and drive.  People who are intoxicated may think they’re moving properly when they’re not.  They may act totally out of character.

Depressants depress the Central Nervous System by mimicking either the brain’s natural sedating chemicals or thwarting the brain’s natural ability to produce stimulating chemicals.

What are the general depressants drug abusers use?
Some of the depressants include: alcohol, opiates, sleeping pills, sedatives, barbiturates and anesthetics.  Alcohol is the drug most commonly used by adolescents.  That is right, alcohol is a drug.

Alcohol alone is a clear liquid.  It takes on the colors, smells and tastes of various products added by manufacturers of beer, spirits, and wine.  Of all the ingredients in a glass of beer or wine, it is simply the sugar* that creates the alcohol, and it is the alcohol that creates the intoxication.  Non-alcoholic beer is simply beer, like any, but without the sugar.  The sugar ingredient might contribute to why it is that 70%- 90% of all alcoholics have hypoglycemia.

Hypoglycemia is a sugar sensitivity which is usually under diagnosed in many adolescents, but it is a very important biological issue that needs to be addressed for alcohol abusers and alcoholics in treatment (Larson, J, 1997).

Alcohol has been found to lower serotonin and norepinephrine levels.
{“Food and Mood,” Natural Medicine Chest, Conquer Depression Without Drugs, Let’s Live magazine, Jan. 2000}

Alcohol temporarily blunts the effects of stress hormones. It typically leaves you feeling worse than ever because it depresses the brain and nervous system.  One study looked at people who consumed one drink a day.  After three months abstinence, their scores on standard depression inventories improved.

Stress, or drugs such as alcohol or cocaine, can activate a gene that is linked to depression and other mental problems.  The result can give rise to seizures, depression, manic-depressive episodes and a host of mental problems, says Robert Post, chief of the biological psychiatry branch of the National Institute of Health (NIH).

{Washington Post Health, Aug. 31, 1993}

  • Ninety-six percent of alcoholics who die by suicide continue their substance abuse up to the end of their lives.
  • Alcoholism is a factor in about 30 percent of all completed suicides.
  • Approximately 7 percent of those with alcohol dependence will die by suicide.

*Alcohol is a hydroxyl compound, where the hydroxyl functional group remains attached to a carbon atom.  Alcoholic beverage refers to liquor, which contains alcohol.  Alcohol or alcoholic beverage is the fermentation product of fruits, vegetables or certain grains.  Fermentation is the process where bacteria or yeast is used in order to breakdown the sugars found in these foods, to alcohol.   The alcohol produced is a psychoactive drug that produces a depressant effect on the brain or central nervous system.

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