Is alcohol a stimulant?

Is Alcohol A Stimulant Header Graphic

While alcohol can have a stimulating short-term effect, it’s categorized as a depressant (not a stimulate) because it slows down brain functioning and neural activity. Alcohol can depress the central nervous system to the point of causing slurred speech, disturbed perceptions and an inability to react quickly.

Why is alcohol not a stimulant?

Most people drink for the stimulant effect, to “loosen up” and reduce social inhibitions. But, when a person drinks more than the body can handle, the depressant effects kick in. An overdose slows body functions to the point of coma, respiratory failure and death.

Stimulates Speed Up Your System Depressants Bring Down Your System

Ongoing research theorizes that alcoholics experience either greater stimulant effect or less depressant effects compared to peers.

Is alcohol causing my depression?

The classification “depressant” doesn’t mean alcohol causes depression. It means a drug depresses (slows down) the central nervous system.

That said, depression and addiction are closely linked. Symptoms of depression are likely to develop during the course of alcoholism or may have contributed to the addiction in the first place. In fact, alcoholics are 3.7 times more likely to experience a major depressive disorder.

Negative Feelings - Drinking to Stop Negative Feelings - Creates or Worsens Problems - Depression - back to Negative Feelings

What are other depressants?

Depressants are “downers” that lower your level of arousal, even putting you to sleep. According to the DEA, other drugs in this category include:

  • Benzodiazepines (Benzos) – Brand names: Valium®, Xanax®, Restoril®, Ativan® or Klonopin®
  • Barbiturates
  • Rohyponol (Ruffies)
  • GHB (Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid)/li>

What is a stimulant?

Opposite to depressants, stimulates speed up the body’s processes. This category includes meth, cocaine and amphetamines like Adderall.


U.S. National Library of Medicine: “Stimulant and Sedative Effects of Alcohol.”
Psychiatric Times: “Comorbid Depression and Alcohol Dependence.”
Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA): “Depressant.”
Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA): “Stimulants.”


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