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When people heard the word “depressant” the first immediate thought is usually an image of certain obscure pills given to a patient with mental health issues, to keep them from crossing that “final line.” This stereotype comes from the lack of knowledge. In truth, depressants are drugs that slow down the brain. They have a variety of medical uses.
For example, they are used to treat anxiety and insomnia (Central Nervous System Depressants, 2016). The most common depressant known to humankind is alcohol. It has been around for many thousands of years, and its use had ingrained itself into almost every culture on Earth. While alcohol has medicinal properties and can potentially improve the mood, it has many unwanted side effects and causes more damage around the world than the rest of the drugs combined.
Types of Alcoholic beverages, Effects, and Side Effects
Alcohol is commonly found in beverages. Depending on the volume of alcohol in a beverage, they are split into three mild groups medium, and strong alcoholic drinks. These groups are exemplified by beer (2,7-5% alcohol), wine (11-18%), and vodka (35-40%). These drinks are often served with food on celebrations and special occasions. However, it is not uncommon for them to be ingested for no reason other than relaxation. Like any other depressant, alcohol affects the central nervous system by enhancing the effect of GABA.
It is a neurotransmitter, which is used for slowing and calming down the impulses within the CNS. Alcohol is easily abused. Its effects are pleasurable to the user. They feel more sociable. Their inhibitions are lowered and their problems are briefly forgotten. Short-term side effects include loss of motor control and inability to coordinate one’s thoughts, speech impediments, and intoxication.
Overconsumption of alcohol is commonly followed by a hangover – an effect that induces a headache, feelings of guilt and embarrassment, bad mood, and confusion. This is commonly remedied by drinking more. Long-term side-effects include addiction, depression, chronic fatigue, insomnia, irreversible brain, and organ damage.
Alcohol and the Other Drugs – What is the Difference?
What makes alcohol different from other depressants? It has similar effects on the brain, causes addictions, has many detrimental side effects, and causes a lot of damage in the world by leading people who abuse it to their deaths. What makes it different from opiates, for example? The answer is – history. Alcohol has become so deeply ingrained into our culture that we cannot imagine ourselves without it.
There had been many attempts to ban alcohol around the world. All these attempts have failed – they only caused a rise of illegal underground brewing facilities to supply the demand. The correct term for alcohol would be a “Legal Intoxicant” (What are Legal Drugs, 2016). The title highlights the fact that humanity is aware of the dangers which alcohol poses, but allows its use due to a long history of use.
A little bit of poison can be used as a medicine. Too much medicine becomes poison. The same could be said about alcohol. The innate effects it has on the body become dangerous only in case of overconsumption. Humanity refuses to let go of alcohol and does everything in its power to fight those few who try to stop its drinking binge. Humanity as a species became addicted to alcohol since it was first created. The failures of anti-alcohol campaigns show that it is not going to change.
Central Nervous System Depressants. (2016).
What are Legal Drugs? (2016).