Alcohol Releases Feel Good Factors in our Brains


Let us create a "drinking" scenario. After work one Tuesday afternoon, Kevin Dokes (a fictitious name) decided to go with his buddies to Happy Hour.

While Kevin usually has one or two beers, on this particular day, Kevin drank six bottles of beer, all within a two hour period of time.

At one point, while Kevin was playing pool, he openly admitted to his buddies that he was feeling very "mellow" and had a "nice buzz."

In fact, if he would have been administered a police type breathalyzer, Kevin's blood alcohol content (BAC) might have been at or above .08, the legal limit for "driving under the influence" (DUI) in all 50 states.

What Caused Kevin to Get a "Nice Buzz"?

Question. What caused Kevin to feel so "mellow" and to experience such a "nice buzz" after drinking several bottles of beer?

Did drinking alcohol somehow affect the "pleasure center" of his brain, thus leading to the "nice buzz" Kevin was experiencing?

Actually, this is fairly close to what takes place in a person's brain when he ingests alcohol. Let me explain.

According to researchers at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at the University of California, when a person drinks alcohol, this releases various "feel-good" chemicals in an area of his brain known as his "pleasure center."

In short, the sudden influx of these "feel-good" chemicals in the brain's "pleasure center" then elicits feelings of reward and pleasure.

Human Nature

It is well documented in the research literature that when people receive pleasure from something, according to the "laws of human nature," they usually want to get even more of whatever it is that is giving them pleasure.

For instance, let us consider a person named Sarah who absolutely loves chocolate ice cream.

Since Sarah enjoys chocolate ice cream so much, she recently started a eating a big bowl of her favorite ice cream whenever she watched TV in the evening.

After a while, however, since Sarah was eating her favorite ice cream so often, the chocolate ice cream wasn't nearly as pleasurable.

What happened? In a word, Sarah "overdid it." She started eating so much chocolate ice cream that it wasn't "special" anymore.

In fact, as she recently told her best girlfriend, "I was eating so much chocolate ice cream that I actually got sick of eating it."

Can This Happen With Drinking Alcohol?

Not unlike Sarah and how she got sick of eating too much of her favorite ice cream, is it possible that something similar is at work when someone like Kevin starts to drink too much of his favorite beer?

In other words, if Kevin were to drink six bottles of beer everyday after work, might he start to "get sick" of drinking?

According to various the researchers, the short answer is "yes."

Stated differently, according to the research scientists at the aforementioned Gallo Clinic and Research Center, while low to moderate amounts of alcohol release "feel-good chemicals," high amounts of alcohol, on the other hand may fail instead stimulate other systems in the brain that lead to depression and/or anxiety.

How Endorphins Affect Drinking

The good news, however, is this. The more that research scientists learn about how endorphins affect drinking, the more likely it is that they will be able to target specific therapies for people who are alcohol dependent.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line regarding drinking alcohol is this: the more that alcohol is consumed in an abusive manner, the more likely it is that the drinker will become an alcoholic.

If this describes you, be honest with yourself and admit that you have a drinking problem.

Once you have taken this step, consider making it a priority to talk with an alcohol abuse and alcoholism professional about getting alcohol treatment as soon as possible.

To view the original source for this article, see alcohol triggers feel good chemicals in the brain's pleasure center.