Is Alcohol a Drug?

I was having a conversation this afternoon about rehab and I guess out of habit I kept saying "drug rehab" when we were talking about a person with an alcohol problemme. I got called on it and the gentleman said, "well I don't need drug rehab I need alcohol rehab!" Ok this kinda side swiped me and and I stumbled for a minute, I was at a bit of a loss for words.

After a few seconds when I collected myself I said, "is alcohol a drug?" He says absolutely not, so my next question was "is water a liquid?" Well of course it is he tells me. Well alcohol is a drug no different then water is a liquid the only reason you are making the distinction is because one is legal and the other mostly isn't but it is definitely a drug thats for sure.

Is Alcohol a Drug?

Alcohol is not only a drug it is THE drug, it causes more addiction, violence, health problems, etc. then pretty much all others combined and most common date rape 'drug' of all of them, definitely the easiest to get your hands on.

In normal everyday speech however the word drug does not include alcohol normally, but lets look at the definition of the word.

Drug - Noun

1: A medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body.

2: A substance taken for its narcotic or stimulant effects, often illegally: a cocaine-based drug<

Is Alcohol a Drug? Well as for #1 it is definitely a substance that has a physiological effect when introduced into the body and for #2 it is also taken for it's narcotic or stimulant effect. It takes time to get use to the taste and if not for the effect I don't think people would drink it again after the first shot.

So by the definition it is definitely a drug, so why the distinction? I think it is because one is legal and socially acceptable and the other is not. Even in rehab you see the difference in groups sometimes and almost a hierarchy from between the "drug addicts" and the "alcoholics." Where the alcoholics can form a sense that they are not the same as "them!"

Is Alcohol a Drug?

In some ways alcohol is the most difficult drug to get off? Why? Well it is allot more readily available, you can walk into 7/11 in many places and score, you don't have to know someone and meet them down a back alley. If you're successful who is going to say anything to you when you "score" a 30 year old bottle of scotch? Not just is alcohol your drug of choice you can go to the ready made drug dealers to hook up, called pubs.

So is alcohol a drug? Yes definitely, but a socially acceptable one. If you call up work in the morning and tell your boss, "I had a really big night last night, we didn't stop drinking till about 4am, I better not come into work today." In todays society you are being socially responsible and might even be commended for blowing off work providing it doesn't happen very often, the boss might even laugh about it. Now call up and say, "Boss I was out smoking crack till 4am, I better not come into work today!" Think his reaction will be the same? Why isn't it? The results are the same, you're not at work in the morning and the company is loosing productivity because your night got out and you are not fit to goto work.

It is absolutely no different than heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, etc. The only major difference is providing you don't drive your car while on it you won't go to jail for it's use.

When thinking about drugs and alcohol and maybe you are looking down on the drug users a little? Drugs are not exotic and something that only "the bad people use in the back alley use", no not at all every wedding you go to is a drug fuelled party, your grandmother nocking back a few glasses of wine every night is a drug user and if you take your drinking over the line you are a drug abuser not "just" an alcohol abuser.

The Distinction

I am not a tea-toddler and I am not saying that alcohol should be classified in the same category as methamphetamine, nor am I for legalizing schedule one drugs. I just want people to look at the reality here that alcohol is as much of a drug as heroin is and in the long run probably causes more harm to society and your body.

One thing that legalizing drugs does is takes the power away from the criminals and puts in into a place where it can be better controlled and regulated. You want a perfect example of that? How about prohibition? When alcohol was illegal in the USA and who made the money off of it? With the exception of the major Canadian breweries and distilleries? Who made the money was the underworld gangs, the mafia, rum runners. What do we call the same groups of people today? Underworld gangs, Cartels and drug runners.

So when asked is alcohol a drug I kind of get a little stoked up about it. If we started calling alcohol a drug it would have some benefits. It would remind people when they took a drink that they were ingesting a dangerous substance. It would also make it easier and more socially acceptable for people struggling with "drug" addiction to step forward and seek help without as much of a stigma about it.

The question however 'is alcohol a drug' will always be asked without a major sociological change where we would have to start looking at people suffering from alcoholism the same as people suffering from drug addiction.


One other thing that the answer to the question 'is alcohol a drug' should tell you, when you are looking for treatment and this rehab is called a drug rehab and that one is an alcohol rehab, there is no difference, they are intrinsically the same and they are both treating drug addiction. One major difference, if your poison of choice happens to be alcohol it is just easier to get in most places and when you leave the centre you will be faced with it allot more often than the 'drug addict'. The guy in the centre using heroin, when he leaves can stop going to the back allies where he bough his drugs. Your going to have a hard time not going to the grocery store or a wedding.