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It may contain incorrect information, particularly with respect to dosage, duration, subjective effects, toxicity and other risks.

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Death may occur when alcohol is combined with other depressants such as opiates, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, gabapentinoids, thienodiazepines or other GABAergic substances.[1]

It is strongly discouraged to combine these substances, particularly in common to heavy doses.

Summary sheet: Alcohol
Chemical Nomenclature
Common names Alcohol, Booze
Substitutive name Ethanol
Systematic name Ethyl alcohol
Class Membership
Psychoactive class Depressant
Chemical class Alcohol
Routes of Administration

WARNING: Always start with lower doses due to differences between individual body weight, tolerance, metabolism, and personal sensitivity. See responsible use section.

Threshold 1 unit
Light 2 - 3 units
Common 3 - 5 units
Strong 5 - 6 units
Heavy 6 units +
Total 1.5 - 3 hours
Onset 2 - 5 minutes
Peak 30 - 90 minutes
Offset 45 - 60 minutes
After effects 6 - 48 hours

DISCLAIMER: PW's dosage information is gathered from users and resources for educational purposes only. It is not a recommendation and should be verified with other sources for accuracy.

Ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol, drinking alcohol, or simply alcohol) is a naturally occurring depressant substance of the alcohol class. Alcohol is historically one of the oldest and most widely used psychoactive substances and continues to be the most widely used recreational substance to this day.

An alcoholic beverage is a drink that typically contains 3%–60% ethanol, commonly known as alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are divided into three classes: beers, wines, and spirits (distilled beverages). They are legally consumed in most countries around the world. More than 100 countries have laws regulating their production, sale, and consumption.[2]

Alcoholic beverages have been produced and consumed by humans since the Neolithic Era, from hunter-gatherer communities to nation-states.[3]

Alcoholic beverages have a different taste depending on their contents and brewing ingredients.


Alcohol, or ethyl alcohol, is the second simplest compound of the alcohol class of chemicals. Ethanol is comprised of a chain of two carbon atoms, known as ethane, with a hydroxyl (-OH) functional group attached to form an alcohol.


In the past, alcohol was believed to be a non-specific pharmacological agent affecting many neurotransmitter systems in the brain.[4] However, molecular pharmacology studies have shown that alcohol has only a few primary targets. These effects are facilitatory in some systems and inhibitory in others.

Among the neurotransmitter systems with enhanced functions are:

  • GABA:[5] In a fashion similar to benzodiazepines, an enhancement of the inhibitory system known as GABA induces neurological inhibition. This depresses the behavioral inhibitory centers, slows down the processing of information from the senses, inhibits thought processes and generally induces a suppression of both normal physical and cognitive functioning.
  • 5-HT3 receptor agonism[6]
  • Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors[7]

Those that are inhibited include:

  • Glutamate:[8] By making this excitatory neurotransmitter less effective, neurological functioning is further inhibited. Alcohol does this by interacting with the receptors on the receiving cells in these pathways and blocking glutamate from binding to NMDA receptors and triggering electrochemical signals.
  • Dihydropyridine[9]

The result of these direct effects is a wave of further indirect effects involving a variety of other neurotransmitter and neuropeptide systems, leading finally to the behavioural or symptomatic effects of alcohol intoxication.[10] It's worth noting, however, that in terms of how these processes directly result in the subjective experience of ethanol intoxication, the exact mechanisms are still largely unknown beyond speculation.

The diagram above shows the average amount of units within common alcoholic beverages. This can be used in accordance with the chart below to determine one's desired dosage.

Subjective effects

The effects listed below are based upon the subjective effects index and personal experiences of PsychonautWiki contributors. These effects should be taken with a grain of salt and will rarely (if ever) occur all at once, but heavier doses will increase the chances of inducing a full range of effects. Likewise, adverse effects become much more likely on higher doses and may include serious injury or death.

Physical effects

Visual effects

Cognitive effects

Auditory effects

After effects
Aftereffects (3).svg

Experience reports

There are currently no anecdotal reports which describe the effects of this compound within our experience index. Additional experience reports can be found here:

Toxicity and harm potential

The most significant of the possible long-term effects of ethanol
Results of a 2010 study ranking the levels of damage caused by drugs, in the opinion of drug-harm experts. When harm to self and others is summed, alcohol was the most harmful of all drugs considered (scoring 72%).
Radar plot showing relative physical harm, social harm, and dependence of alcohol[14]

Although the sensible use of alcohol in the short term is extremely unlikely to have any positive or detrimental effects on one's physical health, the long-term effects of alcohol consumption range from cardioprotective health benefits for low to moderate alcohol consumption in industrialized societies with higher rates of cardiovascular disease[15][16] to severe detrimental effects in cases of chronic alcohol abuse.[17]

High levels of alcohol consumption are associated with an increased risk of alcoholism, malnutrition, chronic pancreatitis, alcoholic liver disease, and cancer. In addition, damage to the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system can occur from chronic alcohol abuse.[18][19] The long-term use of alcohol is capable of damaging nearly every organ and system in the body.[20] The developing adolescent brain is particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of alcohol.[21] In addition, the developing fetal brain is also vulnerable, and fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) may result if pregnant mothers consume alcohol.


Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a broad term for any drinking of alcohol that results in mental or physical health problems. It was previously divided into two types: alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence

Lethal dosage

Death from ethanol consumption is possible when blood alcohol levels reach 0.4%. A blood level of 0.5% or more is commonly fatal. Levels of even less than 0.1% can cause intoxication with unconsciousness often occurring at 0.3–0.4%.[22]

It is strongly recommended that one use harm reduction practices when using this drug.

Tolerance and addiction potential

The chronic use of this compound can be considered moderately addictive with a high potential for abuse and is capable of causing psychological dependence among certain users. When addiction has developed, cravings and withdrawal effects may occur if a person suddenly stops their usage.

Tolerance to many of the effects of alcohol develops with prolonged and repeated use. This results in users having to administer increasingly large doses to achieve the same effects. After that, it takes about 3 - 7 days for the tolerance to be reduced to half and 1 - 2 weeks to be back at baseline (in the absence of further consumption). Alcohol presents cross-tolerance with all GABAgenic depressants, meaning that after the consumption of alcohol all depressants will have a reduced effect.

Chronic excess alcohol intake, or alcohol dependence, can lead to a wide range of neuropsychiatric or neurological impairment, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, and malignant neoplasms. The psychiatric disorders which are associated with alcoholism include major depression, dysthymia, mania, hypomania, panic disorder, phobias, generalized anxiety disorder, personality disorders, schizophrenia, suicide, neurologic deficits (e.g., impairments of working memory, emotions, executive functions, visuospatial abilities, gait and balance) and brain damage. Alcohol dependence is associated with hypertension, coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, and also cancers of the respiratory system, the digestive system, liver, breast and ovaries. Heavy drinking is associated with liver disease, such as cirrhosis.[23]


Lolol.pngMain article: Alcohol withdrawal

When physical dependence has developed, withdrawal symptoms may occur if a person suddenly stops their usage. The severity of withdrawal can vary from mild symptoms such as sleep disturbances and anxiety to severe and life-threatening symptoms such as delirium, hallucinations, and autonomic instability.

Withdrawal usually begins 6 to 24 hours after the last drink.[24] It can last for up to one week.[25] To be classified as alcohol withdrawal syndrome, patients must exhibit at least two of the following symptoms: increased hand tremors, insomnia, nausea or vomiting, transient hallucinations (auditory, visual or tactile), psychomotor agitation, anxiety, tonic-clonic seizures, and autonomic instability.[26]

The severity of symptoms is dictated by a number of factors, the most important of which is degree of alcohol intake, length of time the individual has been using alcohol, and previous history of alcohol withdrawal.[27] Symptoms are also grouped together and classified:

  • Alcohol hallucinosis: Patients have transient visual, auditory, or tactile hallucinations but are otherwise clear.[28]
  • Withdrawal seizures: Seizures occur within 48 hours of alcohol cessation and occur either as a single generalized tonic-clonic seizure or as a brief episode of multiple seizures.[29]
  • Delirium tremens: Hyperadrenergic state, disorientation, tremors, diaphoresis, impaired attention/consciousness, and visual and auditory hallucinations[30] usually occur 24 to 72 hours after alcohol cessation. Delirium tremens is the most severe form of withdrawal and occurs in 5 to 20% of patients experiencing detoxification and 1/3 of patients experiencing withdrawal seizures.[31]

Dangerous interactions

Although many psychoactive substances are safe to use on their own, they can quickly become dangerous or even life-threatening when combined with other substances. The following lists some known dangerous combinations, but may not include all of them. A combination that appears to be safe in low doses can still increase the risk of injury or death. Independent research should always be conducted to ensure that a combination of two or more substances is safe to consume.

  • Stimulants - It can be dangerous to combine depressants with stimulants due to the risk of accidental excessive intoxication. Stimulants mask the sedative effect of depressants, which is the main factor most people use to gauge their level of intoxication. Once the stimulant effects wear off, the effects of the depressant will significantly increase, leading to intensified disinhibition, motor control loss, and dangerous black-out states. This combination can also potentially result in severe dehydration if one's fluid intake is not closely monitored. If choosing to combine these substances, one should strictly limit themselves to a pre-set schedule of dosing only a certain amount per hour until a maximum threshold has been reached.
  • Dissociatives - This combination can unpredictably potentiate the amnesia, sedation, motor control loss and delusions that can be caused by each other. It may also result in a sudden loss of consciousness accompanied by a dangerous degree of respiratory depression. If nausea or vomiting occurs before consciousness is lost, users should attempt to fall asleep in the recovery position or have a friend move them into it.
  • MAOIs - This combination can result in dangerous reactions through the way in which tyramine, a chemical commonly found in alcoholic beverages, causes increased blood pressure.
  • Hepatoxic drugs - Combining alcohol with hepatoxic (liver-damaging) drugs such as acetaminophen (paracetamol) may result in liver damage, liver failure, and death in extreme cases.[citation needed]

Legal status


This legality section is a stub.

As such, it may contain incomplete or wrong information. You can help by expanding it.

Alcoholic beverages are legally consumed in most countries around the world. More than 100 countries have laws regulating their production, sale, and consumption.[32] In particular, such laws often specify the legal drinking age, which usually varies between 16 and 25 years (sometimes depending on the type of drink). Some countries do not have a legal drinking or purchasing age but most set the age at 18 years.[33]

See also

External links


  1. Risks of Combining Depressants (Tripsit) |
  3. Arnold, John P (2005). Origin and History of Beer and Brewing: From Prehistoric Times to the Beginning of Brewing Science and Technology. Cleveland, Ohio: Reprint Edition by BeerBooks. ISBN 0-9662084-1-2.
  4. Neuropharmacology of alcohol addiction |
  5. Sites of alcohol and volatile anaesthetic action on GABAA and glycine receptors |
  6. 5-HT3 receptors and the neural actions of alcohols: an increasingly exciting topic (ScienceDirect) |
  7. Neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors: a new target site of ethanol (ScienceDirect) |
  8. 5-HT3 receptors and the neural actions of alcohols: an increasingly exciting topic (ScienceDirect) |
  9. Ethanol directly modulates gating of a dihydropyridine-sensitive Ca2+ channel in neurohypophysial terminals ( / NCBI) |
  10. Neuropharmacology of alcohol addiction |
  11. Application of an Electronic Nose to Diagnose Liver Cirrhosis from the Skin Surface |
  12. Link between alcohol consumption, cardiac arrhythmias found in drinkers at the Munich Octoberfest |
  13. Andrews P (1997). "Cocaethylene toxicity". Journal of Addictive Diseases. 16 (3): 75–84. doi:10.1300/J069v16n03_08. PMID 9243342.
  14. Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse (ScienceDirect) |
  15. Association of alcohol consumption with selected cardiovascular disease outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Paul E Ronksley, Susan E Brien, Barbara J Turner, Kenneth J Mukamal, William A Ghali BMJ 2011;342:d671
  16. Prospective study of alcohol drinking patterns and coronary heart disease in women and men. Janne Tolstrup, Majken K Jensen, Tjønneland Anne, Kim Overvad, Kenneth J Mukamal, and Morten Grønbæk. BMJ 2006;332:1244.
  17. No authors listed (2000). "Health Risks and Benefits of Alcohol Consumption Health Risks and Benefits of Alcohol Consumption". Alcohol Res Health 24 (1) 5–11.
  18. Neurophysiologic findings in chronic alcohol abuse ( / NCBI) |
  19. Alcoholic diseases in hepato-gastroenterology: a point of view ( / NCBI) |
  21. Mechanisms involved in the neurotoxic, cognitive, and neurobehavioral effects of alcohol consumption during adolescence ( / NCBI) |
  23. Understanding the health impact of alcohol dependence |
  24. Outpatient management of alcohol withdrawal syndrome ( / NCBI) |
  25. The alcohol withdrawal syndrome ( / NCBI) |
  26. Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome |
  27. Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome |
  28. Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome |
  29. Alcohol withdrawal ( / NCBI) |
  30. Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome |
  31. Alcohol withdrawal ( / NCBI) |
  32. "Minimum Age Limits Worldwide" - International Center for Alcohol Policies |
  33. Minimum age limits worldwide |