Alcohol use is common in the United States. In fact, according to national survey data, half of Americans age 12 and older are current alcohol users. While some people may use alcohol in moderation and never develop problems related to its consumption, others may misuse alcohol or even develop an alcohol use disorder, which is the clinical term for an alcohol addiction. Given that alcohol is a substance of potential misuse, people often ask, “What type of drug is alcohol?” Below, learn about the classification of alcohol, as well as how to seek help from an alcohol rehab program.
Is Alcohol Considered A Drug?
People sometimes wonder if alcohol is even considered a drug to begin with, as it is technically a legal substance. While adults age 21 and older may be able to legally use alcohol, the reality is that alcohol is, in fact, a drug. It creates a physiological reaction in the body, which changes functioning and behavior. This fact classifies alcohol as a drug or a psychoactive substance.
Alcohol has many sensations and effects, such as mild impairments in speech and balance, feelings of relaxation and sleepiness, and reductions in driving ability. Large quantities of alcohol can result in intoxication, which causes significant difficulties with coordination, speech, and decision-making, as well as serious dangers like blackouts, injuries, loss of consciousness, or even fatal alcohol overdose.
What Type Of Drug Is Alcohol?
Based on its effects, it is pretty clear that alcohol meets the criteria for what is considered a drug. So, what is alcohol classified as? It is among a class of drugs called central nervous system depressants. Drugs in this category have a high potential for misuse, and they slow the activity of the nervous system. In low to moderate doses, this can create a relaxing effect. High doses of central nervous system depressants can lead to serious problems, like loss of coordination, breathing problems, and fatal overdose.
Is Alcohol A Stimulant Or Depressant?
Alcohol is a depressant drug, rather than a stimulant. Understanding the answer to, “What category of drug is alcohol?” requires knowledge of how alcohol interacts with the nervous system. Alcohol is a depressant drug because itelevates levels of a chemical called GABA, which slows activity in the nervous system. This effect is responsible for the relaxing effects of alcohol, and alcohol’s effects on GABA are what make it a depressant drug.
Effects of Alcohol
People sometimes wonder, “How is alcohol a drug?” The answer is that it is a chemical that affects the brain and behavior. Alcohol has the following effects, which demonstrate why it is a drug.
Slowed Reaction Time
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, so it will slow your reaction time. Your reaction time is slightly slowed after just one drink.
Feelings of Euphoria
When a person drinks enough to become intoxicated, they will begin to experience feelings of euphoria. They may feel relaxed, confident, and especially happy.
As a psychoactive substance, alcohol affects numerous areas of the brain. One area it affects is the temporal lobe, which is why alcohol consumption can lead to slurred speech.
Poor Decision-Making and Judgment
Another area of the brain impacted by alcohol misuse is the frontal lobe, which is responsible for impulse control, logical reasoning, and planning. When this brain region is impaired by alcohol, you are more likely to engage in risky behavior, because your judgment is worse, and your self-control is not as high.
As a person becomes intoxicated, they will become increasingly confused. High levels of alcohol consumption can even lead to stupor and blackout. In extreme cases, alcohol intoxication can lead to coma and even death.
Alcohol affects an area of the brain called the cerebellum, which controls movement. When under the influence of alcohol, you may experience coordination problems. With a high enough alcohol dose, you may struggle to walk on your own.