Alcohol is a legal drug that is used for recreational purposes that people typically use to help deal with stress or feelings they are having. The side effects that alcohol has on the body can range anywhere from a stimulant to a sedative depending on the extent of use. If you drink alcohol consistently over a long period of time, it can potentially cause changes in the brain.
Using alcohol in large amounts, and consistently over time, can lead to alcohol addiction or alcoholism. Getting over an alcohol addiction is one of the most challenging addictions to overcome. At AToN Center we treat many different forms of addiction, including alcohol use disorder. Our team of highly trained clinicians and doctoral level physicians, we can support our clients through the difficult process of treatment for addiction.
Side Effects of Alcohol and Depressants
If used in small quantities or fall short amounts of time, alcohol and other depressants can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and cause relaxation. Some of the other side effects that could occur include:
- Impaired motor skills and coordination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mental cloudiness and confusion
- Emotional instability and severe mood swings
- Sleepiness, unconsciousness
- Slurred speech
- Slowed or depressed breathing
- Cognitive and memory impairment
- Lowered blood pressure
- Slowed or stopped heart rate
What is a Depressant?
A depressant is a substance that will relieve anxiety, put you to sleep, prevent seizures and alleviate muscle spasms. Sometimes referred to as “downers” these drugs can come in the form of colored capsules or tablets or in a liquid form. Unlike a popular belief, they do not make you feel depressed, rather they slow down the messages between the brain and the body, affecting the central nervous system.
The way that a depressant makes you feel will depend on specific variables such as the type and specific chemical that is taken the dose that was taken. Some common side effects of a depressant are enhanced mood, reduced anxiety, reduced inhibitions, slowed reaction time, impaired judgement, increased risk for injury, and/or slowed breathing.
Is Alcohol a Depressant?
Most people who drink alcohol do so to reap the benefits of the alteration in mood, behavior, and neuropsychological functioning. For many, the relaxation that alcohol causes is enough for people to want to drink, but the hangovers and effects of alcohol can actually increase stress and anxiety.
Alcohol is considered a Central Nervous System depressant, meaning that it slows down brain functioning and neural activity. Alcohol does this by enhancing the effects of the neurotransmitter GABA.
The effects of alcohol can depress the body so much that you begin to have slurred speech, disturbed perceptions, unsteady movement, and the inability to react quickly. If alcohol is consumed at too large a quantity and too quickly, it can result in the central nervous system being depressed to the point of respiratory failure, coma or even death.
Drinking alcohol can trigger both sedative and stimulating effects. It is considered a depressant, but the way that you react and the type of effect that you have is based upon the amount of alcohol that has been consumed.
How Depressants Affect Your Health
Alcohol and other depressants impact the brain in multiple different ways. The substance itself connects to the receptors in the brain for gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) which produces the feelings of sedation and calmness.
Alcohol addiction or alcoholism is a chronic disease that causes you to constantly crave and have urges to drink, despite the negative outcomes that can occur if you drink excessively. If you are addicted to alcohol you typically will think about it often, to the point that it is negatively impacting your life. You will crave it and engage in behaviors that you normally would not, to get it.
Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
Some common symptoms of alcohol abuse and addiction include:
- Drink more, or longer, than you plan to
- Failed attempts to cut back or stop drinking
- Must drink more than you used to for the effect you want
- Spend a lot of time drinking, being sick, or hungover
- Continue to drink alcohol even though it made you depressed or anxious, hurt your health, or led to a memory blackout
- Want alcohol so badly you can’t think of anything else
- Have found yourself in situations while drinking or afterward that made you more likely to get hurt
- Quit or cut back on other activities that were important to you to drink
- Have problems with work, school, or family because of your habit (or because you’re sick after having alcohol)
- Keep drinking even though it has caused problems for you or your relationships
Addiction can be treated in a multitude of ways, depending on the severity of substance abuse, type of drug or alcohol being used and personal preference to types of treatment. At AToN Center we understand that not everyone will respond well to a specific treatment method. Some clients may prefer all holistic treatment options while others will respond best to traditional treatments.
Some common methods and practices that are used include behavioral strategies, medications, 12 step programs, Non-12 step programs, and alternative treatments.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment at AToN Center
Types of Treatment at AToN
- Evaluation by a Medical Professional
Before being admitted into our program, it will be necessary to be evaluated and assessed by our medical team to determine if treatment is right for you or your loved one.
- Drug or Alcohol Detox
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Exposure Treatments
- Recovery Study Work
First Steps in Getting Help
If you or a loved one are in the grips of alcoholism or drug addiction and are interested in AToN Center’s addiction treatment in San Diego – including our 12 Step, Non-12 Step, holistic addiction treatment or detox services, please email or call us today at (888) 545-5099 Toll Free.