The current addiction epidemic that faces our nation has continued to grow quite rapidly over the years. There are numerous substances that are problematic in this regard, with some of them being illicit and others legal. One of the largest issues is actually a completely legal substance, which would be alcohol. In fact, a likely part of the problem is that alcohol is legal and socially acceptable. This is obviously not to say that it should be outlawed, but rather that it is simply a problem that needs more recognition. Many people could be said to be struggling alcohol abuse, but it may not be recognized for what it is due to social acceptance or complacency. This is a common scene in colleges, where students will have heavy periods of binge drinking but it is considered “part of college life.” Realistically, the scale of alcohol abuse is larger than most people likely believe. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism regarding data from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health:
- 26.9 Percent of individuals 18 or older had said they engaged in binge drinking in the past month. 7 percent reported that they had engaged in heavy alcohol use in the past month.
- The 2015 NSDUH found that 15.1 millions adults ages 18 or older had an alcohol use disorder, which accounted for 6.2 percent of this overall age group. This number is further broken down into 9.8 million men and 5.3 million women.
- Regarding younger age groups, the 2015 NSDUH also found that an estimated 623,000 adolescents ages 12-17 had an alcohol use disorder, which accounted for 2.5 percent of the total age group. This broke down into 298,000 males and 325,000 females.
- It is estimated that around 88,000 individuals die annually from alcohol-related causes, with 62,000 of them being men and 26,000 of them being women. This makes alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in our nation.
- In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 31 percent of all driving deaths, with this exact number being 9,967 deaths.
As can be plainly seen, this is not a new problem and the numbers continue to be far too high. This has led to contemplation in changing the way that we view and treat alcoholism in comparison to other types of substance abuse. More specifically, the way that alcoholism seems to be treated and regarded differently than other types of substances that fall under the same category as alcohol.
Is Alcohol a CNS Depressant?
Alcohol is classified under a category of substances called depressants. There is a common misconception that depressants cause individuals to feel depressed, but the name more accurately refers to the way that these substances depress or inhibit the central nervous system (CNS). This inhibition results in impairment of both psychological and physical activity. Essentially, depressants reduce awareness and activity in the brain by blocking messages between nerve receptors and the brain. This results in changes and impairments in an individual’s perceptions, judgement, emotions, senses, and movements. Other substances that come under the heading of depressants include opiates and benzodiazepines. This is where the scene gets a bit interesting, being that the way alcoholism is regarded differs from the way that other depressant abuse is viewed. This leaves some wondering: is alcohol a CNS depressant? Well, the direct answer to that is yes, as several of the effects it produces are similar to those of other depressants, especially in that they inhibit the CNS. Although, there is some variation to it as well. Some sources have said that alcohol is a stimulant in small amounts, but that it becomes a depressant when consumed in larger amounts. While the amount consumed can produce differing effects, the basic effects of alcohol do make it a depressant.
The commonality of alcohol use is an interesting situation, being that other depressants are more regulated. Of course, alcohol is not a problem for everyone and it can be used responsibly, but because of its common use and acceptance in our society, those abusing alcohol are often overlooked. Alcohol can produce some desirable effects, such as euphoria and relaxation, but alcohol and other depressants can also bring about numerous side effects, such as:
- Slurred Speech
- Impairment of Coordination and Motor Skills
- Mental Cloudiness
- Cognitive Impairment
- Decreased Blood Pressure
- Slowed or Stopped Heart Rate
- Mood Swings and Emotional Instability
When we witness individuals heavily using opiates or other types of depressants, it is generally agreed that the person needs treatment, but many of those who heavily use alcohol are not looked at the same way. If we considered and treated alcoholism the same as other depressant abuse, it very well may result in more people actually getting the help that they need. There tends to be a larger focus on other types of depressants because of current addiction trends within the nation. For instance, the opioid epidemic is a massive focus for treatment professionals and government officials, being that the prescription and overdose rates of these drugs have been skyrocketing. Although, this does not mean that the large scale problem of alcohol abuse can continue to be overlooked.
Alcohol abuse can have numerous horrible consequences. The decreased inhibition that alcohol brings about can result in individuals making bad decisions and taking larger risks. This can lead to long term repercussions and potentially even death in some cases. There have been far too many examples of people being injured or dying as a result of unintentional alcohol-related accidents. Alcohol also comes with the risk of overdose, alcohol poisoning, or even death from very heavy use. It has resulted in the destruction of many families, careers, and friendships. With the severe consequences that alcohol can potentially contribute to, it is time that alcoholism and abuse are taken seriously and become more recognized.
One of the largest difficulties in overcoming alcoholism is the hellacious physical dependence that it can bring about, as well as the accompanying withdrawal symptoms. In fact, alcohol can bring about some of the most severe cases of physical dependence, and it is one of the few substances that an individual can actually die from during detox. Of course, this is often only in cases of extremely severe dependence or when detox is incorrectly done, such as an individual attempting to go cold turkey. Those struggling with alcohol dependence should be placed into a formal detox center where they can be correctly detoxed and constantly monitored by professionals who can respond to any complications.
When Searching for a Drug or Alcohol Rehabilitation Center
While alcoholism can be an incredibly hellacious battle, it can be overcome through proper treatment. There are many different types of treatment available in modern times that can help people to work through and overcome their addiction. The most ideal type of treatment can vary depending on the individual case of addiction, which is why it is best to find the right fit in a treatment center. That is precisely where 4Rehabilitation can help. Our advisors are knowledgeable and familiar with the various types of treatment and centers across the nation, and they can help find the ideal fit in a rehab facility for you or your loved one. Take the first step toward overcoming addiction and give us a call today.