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Is Alcohol a Drug?

Is Alcohol a Drug? | Just Believe Detox Center

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If you or a loved one needs help with substance abuse and/or treatment, please contact Just Believe Detox Center at (877) 497-6180. Our specialists can assess your individual needs and help you get the treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

The short answer to the question “Is Alcohol a Drug?” is yes, alcohol is a drug. We often hear the phrase “drugs and alcohol” in the media, but the truth is that alcohol is also a drug.

What Is Alcohol?

Alcohol, also known as ethanol or ethyl alcohol, is a colorless, volatile, and flammable liquid that can be found as the main ingredient in beer, wine, and liquor, which intoxicate the person who consumes them. It can also be used as a fuel source, industrial solvent, and component of some medicines.

Alcohol is one of the oldest and most widely consumed recreational substances. People may drink alcohol to relax, self-medicate, increase sociability, celebrate an occasion, or because they enjoy the taste. A person under the influence of alcohol will experience decreased inhibitions.

Some people drink in moderation, others may drink extreme amounts, and some don’t drink at all. Each person’s relationship with alcohol is different. And while drinking in moderation may not signify a dependence or addiction, the more modern science investigates alcohol, the more concerning it becomes. Alcohol is essentially a toxin and no amount of drinking is particularly healthy.

What Is a Drug?

There are many different definitions of the term “drug,” and not all of them would count alcohol as one. In common parlance, the term “drug” has a variety of uses, some of which contradict one another.

One definition is “a substance intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease,” while another is “something and often an illegal substance that causes addiction, habituation, or a marked change in consciousness.”

These two definitions appear almost mutually exclusive. A middle ground definition is “a substance other than food intended to affect the structure or function of the body.” In this latter definition, alcohol is clearly included.

How Does Alcohol Work?

When a person consumes alcohol, it enters their stomach. Some of the alcohol is absorbed directly into the bloodstream very quickly, while the rest gradually enters the circulation as the body digests it. Once in the bloodstream, it makes its way to the brain, where it becomes psychoactive and causes numerous effects—just like any other prescription or illicit drug.

Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that enhances the effect of an inhibitory neurotransmitter called gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA decreases the excitability and activity of neurons in the brain, thereby slowing down vital functions of the body, such as breathing and heart rate.

Alcohol also inundates the brain with the neurotransmitter called dopamine, which is associated with feelings of pleasure and reward. After a person drinks alcohol, they may initially feel stimulated, but this only lasts around 15-45 minutes—the influx of dopamine is responsible for this.

We Believe Recovery Is Possible For Everyone.
If you or a loved one needs help with substance abuse and/or treatment, please contact Just Believe Detox Center at (877) 497-6180. Our specialists can assess your individual needs and help you get the treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

Nonetheless, the lasting effects of alcohol will be depressant in nature until it is fully processed out of the body. A person who has consumed several drinks will exhibit slurred speech and poor motor coordination, among other symptoms of CNS depression.

Furthermore, alcohol can cause a “hangover.” This is a period of time following the consumption of a large quantity of alcohol in which the body is still processing the alcohol out of the system. The liver is the organ chiefly responsible for metabolizing alcohol. During the metabolization process, alcohol is broken down into acetaldehyde, a toxin that causes an individual to feel sick until it is further broken down.

Is Alcohol a Drug? | Just Believe Detox Center

Is Alcohol a Drug?: Abuse and Effects

Since alcohol is not a medication, any pattern of consumption that causes adverse consequences is abuse. This can include becoming sick, being arrested for drinking and driving, committing a crime, or being in a physical altercation.

Alcohol causes a litany of effects and side effects depending on the amount consumed and the tolerance of the individual drinking it. Again, some effects can appear to be stimulating, while others appear to be the opposite.

Effects and side effects of alcohol abuse include the following:

  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Brain damage
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Decreased inhibitions
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Emotional volatility
  • Euphoria
  • Feelings of happiness
  • Feelings of warmth
  • Flushed skin
  • Impaired cognition
  • Increased risk-taking
  • Increased sense of humor
  • Increased sociability
  • Liver damage and disease
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Memory loss or blackouts
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Poor motor skills
  • Sedation
  • Slowed breathing rate
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Worsened depression

Treatment for Alcohol Abuse and Addiction

Alcohol abuse and addiction can wreak havoc on an individual’s life and the lives of their loved ones. Alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening and addiction can be a lifelong disease. If you are struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction, you are strongly advised to enter into a medical detox followed by long-term rehab at a professional facility.

Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery offer comprehensive, state-of-the-art programs to treat alcohol abuse and addiction. Our individualized treatment plans employ clinically-proven services, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, medical detox, 12-step programs, individual and family counseling, mindfulness therapy, relapse prevention, aftercare planning, and more.

We Believe Recovery Is Possible For Everyone.
If you or a loved one needs help with substance abuse and/or treatment, please contact Just Believe Detox Center at (877) 497-6180. Our specialists can assess your individual needs and help you get the treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

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