Drinking alcohol alters your body chemistry and causes euphoria and relaxation. Many people think to curb symptoms of depression, social anxiety, or just because they “had a hard day.” Due to its calming effects, many people ask is alcohol a depressant. Despite the known dangers of using alcohol as a band-aid for more serious mental health issues, many people choose to self-medicate with alcohol instead of dealing with their feelings or emotions head-on.
At Evoke Wellness, we work with Massachusetts residents who have developed an addiction to alcohol due to self-medicating depression, PTSD, or other treatable mental health disorders. Our programs teach patients about the risks of self-medication and how it can cause a co-occurring condition where one disorder fuels the other.
We use behavioral therapy and medical support to confront all aspects of the disorder through group and private therapy sessions at a residence that promotes open communication and true healing. To enroll in our alcohol rehab in Massachusetts, call 866.276.1920 today to talk about quitting alcohol and improving your mental health.
Is Alcohol a Depressant?
The short answer is yes, alcohol is a depressant. A longer, more detailed answer would be that alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. The chemicals in alcohol react with cell receptors in the body and signal a massive release of dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are responsible for the euphoric and relaxed sensations, along with a number of other symptoms that can include:
- Lowered inhibitions
- A lack of balance and coordination
- Slurred speech
- Aggressive or violent behaviors
- Mood swings
- Alcohol poisoning
- Loss of consciousness
The severity of these symptoms depends on how much you drink within a short period of time. It can take your body up to one hour to process an alcoholic drink, and if you continue to drink more within that time, you will begin to feel intoxicated.
The risk of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD) increases dramatically if you drink to excess daily or a few times a week. The more you consume on a regular basis, the more your body will begin to crave it. If you stop drinking without professional support, you will experience a number of painful withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings for several weeks.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction after self-medicating, Evoke Wellness in Waltham, MA, can help. Our co-occurring disorder treatment program addresses the addiction as well as the underlying disorder that started the abuse.
The Risk of Self-Medication
Self-medication is very common in the U.S. Many reports show that nearly 25% of people with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and bipolar disorders self-medicate with alcohol instead of talking with a therapist.
If you are self-medicating with alcohol, prescription medication, or other drugs, you should be aware of the risks of self-medication. These risks can include:
Alcohol Use Disorder
The biggest risk of self-medicating with alcohol is becoming addicted to it. If you drink to ease symptoms of depression, over time, your body will begin to crave more alcohol just to get the same relief. If the addiction is allowed to continue, it can lead to:
- Relationship trouble
- Loss of employment
- Worsening depression
- A decline in physical health
Declining Mental Health
Despite what many people think, self-medicating does little to treat the underlying condition. All it does is hide the symptoms for a short time. The longer a person continues to self-medicate, the more difficult it will be to treat. If a serious addiction develops, it will require several months of inpatient care in addition to attending outpatient therapy sessions for several months to years.
Medical and Psychological Harm
Alcohol use disorder comes with some serious physical and mental health complications. Some of the physical illnesses that can develop include heart disease, liver disease, high blood pressure, and digestive problems. It can also increase the risk of strokes and other neurological diseases. Abusing alcohol can also lead to depression and anxiety, insomnia, psychosis, and worsening personality disorders.
Find Compassionate Alcohol Rehab in Massachusetts at Evoke Wellness
Is alcohol a depressant? At Evoke Wellness, our goal is to educate you about the dangers of alcoholism and the risks of self-medication. We focus on the underlying condition that started the abuse and begin helping patients learn to cope with those feelings and emotions without needing more alcohol. To help people reach their goals, we use a number of different types of therapies that include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Motivational interviewing (MI)
- Meditation and mindfulness therapy
- Relapse prevention therapy
- Family counseling