Alcohol is branded as a stimulant. It’s commonly used to mark an occasion, to lift the mood, to relax. However, the truth is, alcohol is a depressant. It is an addictive drug, which in time, affects the mind significantly, with a high correlating link with depression.  

Those who abuse alcohol, in the moment, believe that it is improving their state of mind. Those who misuse alcohol to combat the side effects of mental health issues, again believe that alcohol is supporting them. When in turn, alcohol is suppressing their cognitive functioning, acting as a depressant.  

As alcohol abuse, alcoholism and alcohol addiction rates continue to increase, it is important that users understand the effects of excessive alcohol consumption. Concerningly, many will only see the positives of alcohol consumption, until it’s too late.  

If you’re currently abusing alcohol, on an excessive level, we encourage you to consider professional support. Alcohol is a depressant drug, with influencing effects on the brain, where a high potential of developing associated mental health issues is likely. However, to aggravate side effects further, to deteriorate quality of life even more, excessive alcohol abuse can lead to an addiction, resulting in a dual diagnosis.  

Whatever your relationship with alcohol may be, we can help you here at Ocean Recovery Centre.  


Is alcohol a depressant or stimulant?  

Here at Ocean Recovery Centre, we are commonly asked many questions regarding alcohol and its impacts.  

  • If alcohol is a depressant, why do I feel happy? 
  • Is alcohol a depressant the next day? 
  • Why is alcohol a depressant? 
  • Is alcohol a depressant or a healthy coping strategy? 

To answer those questions, in short, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. Experienced for the short-term, through average drinking rates, alcohol can have stimulating effects. Many individuals will only experience the positives of alcohol consumption. With this in mind, it can lift moods, resulting in happiness. 

However, for those who abuse or misuse alcohol, where excessive and long-term consumption is encountered, the depressant side of alcohol will present itself. Overtime, the brain will begin to rely on alcohol, while also experiencing adaptations. These adaptations will cause weaknesses in the brain, alcohol cravings and changes to mood, behaviours, outlooks and feelings.  

Adaptations are experienced as the chemicals in alcohol begin to slow the central nervous system down, causing side effects, such as impaired memory, delayed reactions, and mental health issues, such as depression.  

The concerning factor is, that once a dependence on alcohol has developed, pinpointing the depressant of alcohol can be very difficult. Users will continue to abuse alcohol, with the hope that it will alleviate their symptoms. The next day after consuming alcohol, the depressant will kick in, commonly resulting in further alcohol abuse, with the attempt to lift the mood. When in fact, alcohol is a depressant, known to deteriorate cognitive functions, and physical health, where the development of a dual diagnosis is high-risk.  

Here is where the dangerous cycle of addiction and depression meet and develop, battling one another through alcohol abuse 


Alcohol and depression – a dual diagnosis  

A further concerning factor of a dual diagnosis is the part alcohol plays for someone suffering from depression. For some individuals, depression will develop as a side effect of addiction. However, for some individuals, a pre-existing weakness, an encounter of depression will be present, commonly resulting in alcohol abuse.  

Alcohol is viewed as a stimulant, as a support mechanism for individuals with mental health issues. It is abused with the aim to block out those difficult emotions, experiences or memories. However, as alcohol offers an initial respite, this level of consumption will continue, soon mimicking a behavioural addiction.  

Here is where a dual diagnosis will aggravate, where alcohol is likely to be prioritised, yet again resulting in depressant effects. It is easy to see how the vicious circle of a dual diagnosis can develop and uphold. It is also understandable to see the difficulties of spotting the deteriorating impacts each can have on one another, in the moment.  

Yet, as addiction specialists, we appreciate the long-term damaging impacts both can have on one another, requiring great rehabilitation.  

So, to answer the question of ‘is alcohol a depressant or stimulant?’, it is initially perceived as stimulant, yet as abuse progresses, it is a depressantresulting in an advanced risk of a dual diagnosis.  


Sourcing support for a dual diagnosis 

Sourcing support for either an alcohol addiction, depression or a dual diagnosis is vital to uphold future quality of life. Once the cycle of each is experienced, it can be very difficult to break away.  

With this in mind, if you are experiencing the downfalls of alcohol consumption or depression, we recommend reaching out to our team. Here we can understand the complexity of your diagnosis greater, ensuring that suitable avenues of treatment and support can be provided.  

It is important to note that standalone treatment programmes will be required when treating both alcoholism and its depressant effects, However, through rehab, programmes can coincide with each other, offering convenience and greater progression.  

It is highly likely that psychological intervention will play a great part in rehabilitation efforts. To treat an addiction, detox programmes, cognitive behavioural therapy and support groups are likely to be recommended. To treat depression, prescription medication, therapy sessions and exposure therapy will likely be encouraged through rehab.  

The aim is to reduce the reliance on alcohol, with the intention to lift its depressant impacts. This, alongside realigning the mind from depressive side effects ivery important, helping to reduce the risk of future relapse.  

Treating a dual diagnosis can be very complex. With this in mind, please do not suffer alone or attempt to reduce your alcohol consumption independently. Sourcing professional support will always be encouraged, prioritising your health, safety and ability to recover.  

It is important that those abusing alcohol understand the damaging effects it can have on cognitive functions. It is also important for those experiencing depression to understand the damaging impacts alcohol abuse can have, aggravating their primary condition.  

Is alcohol a depressant? It unfortunately is, resulting in a dual diagnosis if abused excessively. Avoid the negatives of alcohol consumption by spotting the signs early.  

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: February 1, 2021

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.