Is alcohol a depressant? The effects of alcohol, binge drinking on the body

Whether you drink alcohol regularly or save it for special celebrations, it is a common element in many people’s lives. Researchers found the earliest trace of alcohol residue in pottery from 7000–6600 BC, according to the Penn Museum. The pottery was from Jiahu, which was a Neolithic village in China.

The type of alcohol humans drink, ethanol (ethyl alcohol) is one of the four types of alcohol. Alcohol’s known for its various effects on the human body and people sometimes feel buzzed after drinking it. So, is alcohol a depressant?

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Is alcohol a depressant?

Although alcohol has stimulant effects, the National Library of Medicine says it is a central nervous system depressant, which is a type of drug that slows down communication between the brain and the body.

What is a depressant?

According to Britannica, a depressant is a drug, medicine or other agent that slows down the function of vital organs in the body. Alcohol is specifically a central nervous system depressant.

According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, these are effects of depressants:

  • Decreased inhibitions and anxiety

  • Slower reaction time

  • Hindered judgment

  • Slowed breathing

  • Higher risk of accident or injury

Higher doses of depressants can cause these effects, among others:

  • Vomiting

  • Blackouts and memory loss

  • Irregular breathing

  • Hindered coordination

  • Unconsciousness

How long alcohol stays in your system: It depends on several factors.

Which alcohol makes people the most tired?

In a 2017 study, approximately 60% of red wine drinkers said they felt tired after drinking, the highest percentage out of any other alcohol in the study (spirits, white wine and beer). The study focused on emotions people reported feeling after drinking different alcoholic beverages.

What is the definition of binge drinking?

Binge drinking is “a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 percent,” according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. BAC, also known as blood alcohol content or blood alcohol, is "the amount of alcohol in your blood," according to the Cleveland Clinic.

For most women, this is four or more drinks in around two hours. For most men, this is five drinks or more in around two hours. Binge drinking is on the rise for multiple groups of the U.S. population, according to the NIAAA.

What does blood alcohol concentration not depend on?

BAC does not depend on the kind of alcohol you drink, medications you take, your tolerance, your physical fitness or how well you can drink without appearing intoxicated.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Is alcohol a depressant? Definitions, effects of binge drinking