Is alcohol a drug? This is a question people often wonder due to the effects of alcohol on the brain. While not every substance that alters brain activity is classified as a drug, most professionals in the medical field consider alcohol a drug for various reasons. Furthermore, alcohol is considered one of the most addictive drugs in the world.
Alcohol is used primarily for recreational purposes. However, continued use of alcohol extends beyond social activities and into alcohol addictions or dependency. Like any other drug, addiction to alcohol requires extensive treatment until recovery can be achieved. Is alcohol a drug? Let’s find out the answer to that question below.
What is a Drug?
To bring some clarity to the question, “Is alcohol a drug?”, it may be important to understand what a drug is. In pharmacology, the definition of a drug is a substance that causes changes in the brain’s psychology or physiology when consumed.
Drugs can be consumed for a variety of reasons. The two main reasons why people use drugs are either for medicine or recreation. The key factor in classifying a substance as a drug is that the substance alters brain function. However, there are other factors to consider when classifying a substance as a drug such as:
- The way the substance is ingested
- The purpose of consuming the substance
- The origin of the substance
- The addictive properties of the substance
- The effect of the substance on the brain or central nervous system
Drugs range from stimulants and depressants to psychotics and hallucinogens.
Is Alcohol a Drug?
Based on the definition and description of substances classified as drugs, it is safe to say that alcohol falls into the classification. Alcohol has a depressant effect on the brain and bodily function with both immediate short-term use and long-term use. Treatment professionals also note that alcohol has a psychoactive effect that can lead to diseases and other health-related conditions.
There are several stages of alcohol consumption that cause it to have an impact on the brain such as:
The initial reaction of alcohol on the brain is that of a euphoric experience. Drinking alcohol causes the brain to release neurotransmitters such as dopamine or serotonin. This produces feelings of pleasure. The individual drinking the alcohol may feel relaxed.
Once the initial euphoria wears off, the user may become depressed as the blood alcohol level (BAC) increases to .05 percent. In addition, the alcohol binds to GABA receptors, slowing down brain activity.
When the blood alcohol level increased from .09 to .25 percent, the user may have a sudden burst of excitement, but experience confusion or disorientation. The effect of alcohol has reached the occipital lobe, temporal lobe, and frontal lobe, causing slow reactions, impaired motor skills, and slowed activity.
Stupor, Coma, and Death
Once alcohol levels exceed .25 percent and extend into .45 percent, the user is in danger of losing full motor skills, sensory functions, memory, and system function. They have the potential of suffering from asphyxiation, compromised respiration, coma, or death.
How much alcohol is too much depends on a number of factors such as overall health, age, gender, weight, and genetics. One thing is for sure: regardless of these factors, anyone who drinks will be affected by alcohol.
Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
Is alcohol a drug? Find out more about the dangers of drinking alcohol at Blueprint Recovery. We offer comprehensive treatment for alcohol and drug addiction at our alcohol addiction treatment center in NH. In addition to alcohol addiction treatment, we also offer other addiction treatment programs including:
Call 833.654.1004 to find out more about your treatment options. We are here to help you get on the road to recovery.