Is Alcohol A Stimulant? 5 Amazing Facts About Addiction

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Alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism, is a chronic disorder described by the compulsive and uncontrollable usage of alcohol, affecting millions of people worldwide. Despite its prevalence, many people do not fully understand the nature of addiction and its associated dangers.

Stimulants and depressants are substances that can badly impact an individual’s central nervous system.

Stimulants are drugs that increase activity in the brain and central nervous system. They work by stimulating the production and release of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

Common examples of stimulants include:

  • Nicotine
  • Caffeine
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Methamphetamine

Depressants are treatments that slow down brain activity and suppress certain neurotransmitters. Depressants are also known as sedatives or tranquilizers. They can produce feelings of relaxation, reduce inhibitions, and impair judgment and coordination.

Common examples of depressants include:

  • Opioids
  • Alcohol
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines

In this article, we will learn the relationship between alcohol and addiction. It will also discuss the unique facts that can help individuals understand the complex nature of addiction.

is alcohol a stimulant

Is Alcohol A Stimulant?

Contrary to popular belief, alcohol is classified as a depressant, not a stimulant. Alcohol slows down activity in the brain and central nervous system. Alcohol addiction results in feelings of relaxation and reduced inhibitions.

However, in certain situations, alcohol can act as a stimulant, such as in small doses or when combined with other substances. Using alcohol as a stimulant can be dangerous and lead to addiction and other health problems.

Alcohol as a stimulant

While alcohol is primarily classified as a depressant, it can also act as a stimulant in certain situations. For example:

  • Low to moderate doses of alcohol: This can produce feelings of euphoria, increased sociability, and reduced inhibition. It may lead some individuals to perceive alcohol as a stimulant. 
  • Higher doses of alcohol: Alcohol’s depressant effects become more pronounced with high amounts of alcohol. It may lead to sedation, impaired coordination, and potentially dangerous consequences such as respiratory depression and loss of consciousness.

Alcohol as a depressant 

Alcohol is classified as a depressant, which slows down brain activity and suppresses certain neurotransmitters. It works by:

  • Decreasing the activity of glutamate. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter with excitatory effects on the brain.
  • Increasing the activity of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter that calms the brain. 

Effects Of Stimulants & Depressants

While stimulants and depressants have different effects on the body, they can both be addictive and have the potential for substance abuse. Long-term usage of stimulants and depressants can lead to addiction, physical dependence, and tolerance. This may require professional addiction treatment.

  • Use alcohol in moderation and avoid using it to achieve a stimulant-like effect.
  • Only use prescription drugs (stimulants and depressants) as prescribed by a medical professional to prevent misuse and abuse.

Alcohol In Moderation

Always consume alcohol in moderation since it can negatively affect physical and mental health. Stimulants affect the brain and body by increasing levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, which can increase heart rate and blood pressure and lead to respiration issues, decreased appetite, and fatigue.

alcohol can increase blood pressure

Health Risks Associated With High Doses Of Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol regularly can enhance the risks of growing chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, liver disease, and certain cancers. It can also lead to alcohol dependency and addiction, which can have devastating effects on an individual’s life and relationships.

In addition to physical health risks, excessive alcohol consumption can adversely affect mental health. Alcohol is a depressant and can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and depression. It can also cause impairment of judgment and lead to risky behaviors, resulting in accidents, injuries, and legal problems.

Benefits Of Moderate Alcohol Consumption 

Moderate alcohol usage has been linked to certain health benefits. The key is to drink alcohol in moderation, described as two drinks or less per day for men or one drink or less per day for women. By practicing moderation and being mindful of their alcohol consumption, individuals can reduce their risk of negative consequences and enjoy the potential benefits of moderate drinking.

5 Facts About Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction is a complex condition that affects millions of people worldwide. While many know the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption, many misconceptions and misunderstandings exist about alcohol addiction. Let’s discuss five about alcohol addiction that highlight the severity of the disease and the importance of seeking addiction treatment.

#1 Addiction is a disease.

The condition of addiction is a disease that impacts the brain, altering an individual’s thoughts and behaviors. It can cause several health issues, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, and liver disease. It may weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections.

#2 Genetics play a role in the alcohol addiction cycle.

Addiction is a family disorder, one person may be addicted to it, but all family members suffer. Studies have shown that genetics make up about 50% of the risks for alcohol addiction. Specific genes may affect the way the body metabolizes alcohol. It makes some individuals more susceptible to alcohol addiction than others. Additionally, individuals with a family background of alcohol addiction are likelier to develop the condition.

#3 Alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous.

Addiction may start with a choice, but it ends with a disease. Alcohol addiction is a physical as well as psychological dependence on alcohol. Withdrawal from alcohol can be dangerous and even life-threatening. Signs of alcohol withdrawal can include severe dehydration, hallucinations, seizures, delirium tremens, and more. 

#4 Addiction can lead to physical changes in the brain.

Long-term use of alcohol can cause physical changes in the brain. It includes a decrease in the size of the brain’s grey matter and an enhancement in the size of the brain’s ventricles. These changes can result in cognitive impairment, memory problems, and other mental health issues.

#5 Treatment for addiction is available.

Addiction is a disease that doesn’t discriminate, but recovery is a journey that can transform lives. Various treatment options are available for alcohol addiction, including detoxification, medication, and behavioral therapies. Treatment can help individuals overcome their addiction and improve their health and well-being.

Here’s another comprehensive guide so you can gain a deeper understanding of this complex issue. 

alcohol addiction treatment center

Sobriety At Launch Centers In Los Angeles

Sobriety is a challenging journey, but Launch Centers in Los Angeles, California, can provide the support and resources needed to achieve lasting recovery.

We offer a variety of evidence-based treatments and therapies, including trauma-informed care, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and relapse prevention techniques. With a focus on individualized care, our experienced team can create a personalized treatment plan that addresses each client’s recovery goals.

If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to contact Launch Centers for help. The center’s compassionate and knowledgeable staff are available 24/7 to answer any questions and support during this difficult time.

With the right addiction treatment, lasting recovery is possible. Contact us today to learn about our programs.

About Our Founder

Jose Hernandez, for over a decade, has been involved in alcohol and addiction recovery helping people succeed in overcoming substance abuse and regaining control of their lives. He has experience in all aspects of the recovery world, from facilitating entry into treatment as an intervention specialist to counseling and case management at rehabilitation facilities. Jose has worked one-on-one with individuals as a sober companion and with groups as a resident counselor at addiction treatment centers and is certified by the California Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) to practice as a substance abuse counselor.

Through his professional experiences in crisis intervention, drug and alcohol detoxification, substance abuse counseling, and relapse prevention, Jose has developed a unique plan for case management that bridges the gap between a person’s painful past of substance abuse and a future of sobriety.

At Riviera Recovery, a sober living facility with multiple locations, clients continue their transition from the supportive environment of a treatment center to living well and happily in the “real” world. The program he designed at Riviera Recovery personalizes treatment plans that enable clients, including those with a single or dual-diagnosed mental health disorder, to embrace a satisfying life.

His greatest endeavor has been establishing LAUNCH, a Los Angeles-based life skills intensive outpatient program for young adults. LAUNCH works with recovering men and women to establish personal vocational and educational goals and develop the tools to successfully meet them. His mission is to ensure that no one stands alone in his or her recovery.

Meet Our Clinical Team

staff member drug alcohol treatment los angeles

Jess Beck, LCSW

Clinical Director

treatment team los angeles ca

Eric Chaghouri, MD


chloe kruskol los angeles rehab team

Chloe Kruskol, LCSW

Family Program Manager

Our Testimonials

Clients and Professionals Share Their Experience

  • HO

    Launch provided care on multiple levels. The highly skilled therapist coupled with the focus on purpose and long-term goals refocused my recovery from what previous treatment centers pushed onto me. I went from believing that I needed years of treatment to believing I needed years happiness and success. I began to focus on what I wanted to accomplish with my life. I came to realize all the things my addiction and mental illness had taken from me, and I used my future goals as a reason to never pick up again. Due to the passion that Launch instilled in me, I have pursued my future with excitement and dedication.

  • Nicole

    This place changed my life! I’ve had good laughs, good cries, shared a lot of heart to heart moments and grew a loving bond with everyone at Launch Centers. I will always be grateful!!! I really do miss it time to time. I highly recommend Launch Centers!

  • Joey

    The staff and clinicians are amazing and make you feel right at home from the second you walk in the door. I would absolutely recommend this place for a family member or close friend.

  • Ben

    This treatment facility has changed my life. I have always struggled with my mental health and this young adult program provided me with the necessary skills to launch to adulthood. I commend anyone who struggles with mental health or substance use (which was not me) to try this program out. It will change your life.

  • Conner

    Launch Centers Treatment was a major help to me. The therapists and staff genuinely cared about me and truly helped me to make a plan for my future. My personal therapists helped me to discover where some of my deeper issues came from. All of the staff worked tirelessly with me to talk through my issues, or just about life, and offered realistic solutions to my current problems and situation. All of the staff went above and beyond and advocated relentlessly for me. I am very grateful that I was able to have such a wonderful experience with Launch.

  • Adam

    In no uncertain terms Launch Centers changed my life. The staff at Launch are professional, knowledgable and relatable. They keep the format diverse and interesting which kept me engaged in the process. The greatest thing we can do in life is seek to improve ourselves. Launch gave me a skill set I consider to be invaluable in the journey of becoming the best version of myself. I would implore anybody considering Launch to step outside their comfort zone and go, you will not regret it.


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