Is Alcohol A Stimulant?

People Use Alcohol to Numb Emotions. But Can it Also Act As a Stimulant?
Online Therapists Can Help You With Substance Abuse


Alcohol may just be the most commonly used, legal drug substance on the market. For most people, drinking alcohol is such a normal part of their lives. They often forget that alcohol is in fact a drug. Like any drug, it has negative, harmful side effects which can cause irreparable damage to the mental and physical health of an individual.

In fact, alcohol is classified as a depressant. It slows down the body which makes us act sluggish and feel unsteady on our feet. Most people don't see alcohol in that light. Instead, alcohol is freely consumed at parties, at clubs, and at social events to get a buzz, to get high, to feel happy and to be energized. Given these two very conflicting and opposite effects, is alcohol a stimulant or a depressant?

Alcohol is an interesting drug in that it can have a biphasic effect on someone depending on the amount of alcohol consumed. It is in fact a stimulant as well as a depressant. A small quantity of alcohol in the bloodstream (0.05) releases dopamine in the brain and generally has the desired effect of giving someone a 'buzz.' It can make them more outgoing, confident, extroverted, happy and relaxed. In short, it acts as a stimulant.

However, when too much alcohol is consumed i.e. binge or heavy drinking, the body can't handle it so it has the opposite effect. It acts like a sedative or tranquilizer by slowing down the body's central nervous system and vital functions. When this happens, the person begins to experience the depressant effects of alcohol. They are unable to think clearly. Their mind feels foggy. They lack control over their actions. They also experience memory loss, blackouts and are at a higher risk of suffering from hangovers, alcohol poisoning, brain damage and in some very serious cases, death.



Because alcohol is so readily available and accepted in society, people don't see it as a poisonous drink that can become as addictive and hard to kick as a drug addiction. In some cases, people choose to abuse alcohol over other drugs because it's cheaper, it's legal and there is no stigma attached to drinking. But the reality is that alcohol is an addictive substance with terrible side effects. It can cause more harm than other drugs like crack or heroine.

Alcohol abuse, over a period of time, leads to alcohol dependence, addiction and finally alcoholism. Moreover, this leads to a host of health problems and diseases, such as liver failure, heart disease, cancer and stroke just to name a few. Many of these health problems eventually lead to death. In fact, alcohol is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Studies have shown that it's a substance which causes the most harm to society. Alcohol abuse often leads to domestic violence, crimes, car accidents etc. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol consumption is responsible for approximately 88,000 deaths each year.

People Use Alcohol to Numb Emotions. But Can it Also Act As a Stimulant?
Online Therapists Can Help You With Substance Abuse


Once alcohol abuse reaches the stage of alcoholism, it can be very difficult to recover fully without getting help from professionals. The best and most successful treatment options include working closely with doctors and therapists and following a rehab program that is right for you.

The first step to get help is to ask for it. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction and you need someone to speak with, counselling is available at all times through BetterHelp, the largest e-counselling platform in the world.

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