Alcohol and different substances can be categorized as uppers or downers based on the affect they have on a person. Alcohol is classified as a depressant meaning that it slows down vital functions resulting in slurred speech, unsteady movement, disturbed perceptions, and an inability to react quickly. As for how it affects the mind, it is best understood as a drug that reduces a person’s ability to think rationally and distorts his or her judgment.
Although classified as a depressant, the amount of alcohol consumed determines the type of effect. Most people drink for the stimulant effect, such as a beer or glass of wine taken to “loosen up.” But if a person consumes more than the body can handle, they then experience alcohol’s depressant effect. They start to feel “stupid” or lose coordination and control.
How Depressant Drugs Work
All depressants work by slowing down the functioning of the central nervous system. This is usually done by enhancing the effect of a type of neurotransmitter called GABA. This is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which means that its job is to calm down operations within the CNS (Central Nervous System). Alcohol is also able to increase the depressant effect by interfering with excitatory neurotransmitters as well. Opiates also reduce pain signals as well as inhibiting the CNS.
The Reasons People Abuse Depressants
The calming effects of depressants on the brain are pleasurable. The most common reasons why people abuse this type of drug include:
- It allows people to be more sociable. Even shy individuals will find it easier to function within a group. It is this ability to increase sociability that accounts for the popularity of alcohol.
- This type of drug reduces inhibitions.
- Abusing depressants temporarily allow people to escape their problems.
- Those individuals who have a lot of anxiety and stress can find a bit of short-time solace in this drug
- It can increase feelings of confidence.
- They can create feeling of euphoria –this is especially true with opiates.
The Dangers of Abusing Depressants
If people abuse depressants they will begin to suffer because of it. It can start to really damage their mental and physical functioning. It may not take long for an addiction to develop and then the individual will find that their life has been taken over by the drug.
The most common dangers of depressant abuse include:
- Increased tolerance means that the individual now must take more of the drug to get the same effect.
- Once they have become physically addicted they will experience withdrawal symptoms should they try to stop taking the drug. These withdrawal symptoms can sometimes be fatal.
- This type of abuse can cause physical damage to different body organs. For instance, alcohol abuse can lead to diabetes, alcoholic liver disease, or wet brain.
- People become so obsessed with these drugs that they develop a willingness to commit criminal acts to get their hands on them. This is particularly likely if are unable to obtain the drugs by legitimate means.
- The individual will find it more difficult to deal with work and home commitments.
- Increased risk of accidents and becoming the victim of violence.
- Mental health deteriorates and the individual may experience a lot of depression and anxiety.
- This type of abuse can often lead to suicide.
- Long-term abuse can mean loss of family, friends, and employment.
- Overdose is common with this type of substance. This is true of barbiturates when an overdose can quickly lead to death.
Symptoms of Alcohol/Depressant Abuse
When a person abuses a depressant, there will be symptoms that become noticeable.
Symptoms of depressant abuse include:
- Evidence of withdrawal symptoms when the individual is not using depressants
- A loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed
- Secretive behavior
- Even though these drugs are causing obvious harm the individual continues to use them
- Time of work and reduced productivity
- Periods of depression
- Less interest in personal hygiene and grooming
- Mood swings
- They can’t remember things that happened due to blackouts
- They are unable to control the amount of alcohol or other depressant they are using
- Denial when confronted with the abuse
- The person feels unable to cope without their drug
- Poor behavior possibly followed by a period of remorse
- Inability to keep up with their family and social commitments
There are other physical and mental health problems that could be the cause. It is also not necessary for the individual to have all the symptoms for them to be abusing a drug; even a couple of these behaviors could indicate abuse. If you or someone you love is abusing alcohol or any other substances do not hesitate to get help today!