Is alcohol a drug or poison?

Alcohol is one of the most consumed beverages globally, and it is often indulged in for recreational purposes. Despite its widespread use, alcohol remains one of the controversial topics when we talk about drugs with different opinions on this topic. Here we will explore whether alcohol falls under drug classification or poison.


Before I delve into the nitty-gritty details regarding the debate surrounding whether alcohol is a drug or poison let me begin by highlighting that my research and experience have always been accompanied by a glass of beer.

It’s no secret that humans love getting high/drunk/impaired/inebriated/wasted/trashed/lit (choose any) from time to time; if anything, it seems like an integral part of our human history – but does this mean every constituent in our drinks gets immediately labelled as a drug?

Let’s set some definitions straight!

Drug- It refers to a chemical substance which can affect bodily functions either positively/negatively.

Poison-A toxic substance capable of causing illness/damage/death upon exposure.

Alcohol-An organic compound derived from grains/fruits containing up to 14% ethyl-alcohol by volume.

Alcohol: A Drug?

One could argue this point because consuming ethanol (alcohol) chemically influences your mood and nervous system function (duh!) leading to reduced anxiety levels thus making you relax (“just chilling out”) while exciting dopaminergic pleasure centers inducing euphoria (‘happy dance’). In reality -Ethanol precisely falls under Depressant drugs’ category due to CNS depressions causing slowed reactions activity/reduced cognitive processing. Furthermore recent research has shown long term heavy drinking causes grey matter atrophy & brain shrinkage which leads us into brains malfunctioning / faulty control communication mechanism & development complications.(Hold onto those Drinks)

But WAIT, before pointing fingers at Ethanol, remember all “drug” / toxin definitions are dependent on what Dosage is consumed ^(1).

‘Moderate drinking’ (or moderate frequency of heavy alcohol intake) has been found to reduce health complications such as dementia in later life or arteriosclerosis while causing potentially disastrous emergencies when paired with other substances (Another round?)

Pros And Cons Of Alcohol Consumption

Pros Cons
Stimulation of the appetite Negative effect on liver function
Provide a social outlet Increased risk of certain cancers
Mood improvement Impaired judgment

Alcohol Is Poisonous Too

Alongside these effects, when consumed in excess -not only does ethanol influence your motor skills & judgement but excessive usage results in vomiting sleepiness dizziness confusion comas seizures and so can be poisonous. Ethanol poisoning could manifest via respiratory depression & myocardial dysfunction that are both dangerous manifestations ultimately leading into death if toxic levels( >25-50 ml/100ml blood)^(2) result.

You might still argue that pizza would also rank under ‘poison’ classification-if eaten in large quantities-but let me tell you; for an exceptionally fatal substance- Just one shot/glass/quaff/bottle/drink/personal-mix may result from alcohol poisoning than any similar drugs.^(3) Furthermore consistent frequent patterns of intoxication lead into cardiomyopathy/hepatitis/cirrhosis due to secondary folate deficiency^(4).

Even more soberingly-(no pun intended)- most drug-related accidents occur under the well-known influence of alcoholic drinks! The alarming statistics say it all!

So Where Do We Stand Now?

Based on my research and extensive experience where I have often participated (hiccup) as part-science-part-patient(a true scientist never tests unless willing to test themselves first), we can conclude that alcohol fits neither criterion completely, although its harmful effects are significant enough to warrant efforts towards better public health management of problematic usage.

Conflicting Opinions

As with any issue regarding human and substance use any research always has conflicting opinions.

Although one school of thought argues for classification as a drug because ethanol is responsible for predictable systematic changes in behavior & physiology when paired alongside the consumption of other limited ‘drugs’ inside alcoholic beverages; there remains the fact minor quantities like less than 1-2% ABV could also be present in legal compounds ranging from coffee/teas/syrups/vinegars to medicines (Codiene cough syrup/Hydrogen peroxide)(5) you wouldn’t strike these on top toxic/drug lists would you? Just keep scrolling through your kitchen cabinets-come on, I know you didn’t stock up during quarantine for nothing! Now You may scream LIES as loudly as you wish-at least not after consuming shot number four!

The opposing standpoint -those who classify it predominantly under poison- highlights that regular dose patterns still carry considerable odds-be very afraid if all-time classic matches such as vodka lemon juice slushies or tequila chased by taco chips with hot sauce become part of daily meal choices! These options might seem appetizing-steer clear though. Nevertheless,you need-not panic much-(pause) yet-given alcohol’s widespread acceptance/usage normal seems efficient levels accurately match drink quantity/body mass index rates that don’t cause harm to general physiological functions.^ (6),(7)


While there isn’t an apparent answer about whether alcohol should consistently fall under drugs or poisons category here-pause-relax-it doesn’t matter we will keep enjoying drinks at our favorite bars across cities/places now knowing potential negative implications long term consumption puts us in danger making imprudent decisions while drinking-drink responsibly-and always make informed choices.

Cheers, that’s it folks! The research has been done now let’s grab a bottle and continue discussing!

Never drink something bigger than your head!
-Whoever said this advice knew about alcohol

                                    -The end-

[]Results are based on personal experience with no scientific backing.
(4)R. Curtis Ellison; Alcohol as a Cause of Disease Pharos, Volume 78, Issue 3-4, pages 11-16, Summer/Fall 2015 DOI: https:
(5), (6)& (7)-examples used hypothetical(not backed by any scientific research)

Random Posts