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Does Alcohol Affect Pleasure Centers in the Brain?

For most people, drinking alcohol is nothing more than a way to relax after a long day. People with alcohol use disorders do not have the same luxury. Alcohol has a significant effect on the brain. Alcohol is a powerful substance because of the effect it has on the dopamine activity in the brain. When a person drinks, the brain’s “reward circuits” are then flooded with dopamine, which means the brain’s pleasure centers are directly affected by alcohol.

Chronic Alcohol Abuse Alters Your Brain Chemistry

This will produce feelings of euphoria that are commonly recognized as feeling buzzed. Dopamine will also activate the memory circuits in your brain that will imprint the pleasant experience and feelings you feel when drinking alcohol. This leaves you wanting more. But over time, the way alcohol affects dopamine levels will change. It will start causing your dopamine levels to drastically drop and leaves you feeling miserable but also desiring more alcohol to feel better again.

The Relationship Between Dopamine and Alcohol

Dopamine itself is a neurotransmitter, which is a chemical messenger that carries signals throughout the brain and communicates that information to your body. Dopamine plays an important role in the body and affects memory moods, and sensations, or pleasure and pain. It is involved in motivation, movement, and reinforcement of certain actions you take. Alcohol does initially boost someone’s level of dopamine, but over time, the brain will adapt to the dopamine overload that is associated with continued alcohol use.

Damage in the Brain Caused by Alcoholism IS Reversible

It will then start to produce less of the chemical and lower the number of dopamine receptors while increasing the number of dopamine transporters that are responsible for ferrying the excess dopamine between the brain cells. The outcome is a plummeted mood as the dopamine levels drop too. This causes people to continue to consume more and more alcohol to unconsciously boost their dopamine and spark back up. The brain tends to positively reinforce the action of drinking alcohol. Once a person begins to drink heavily, the brain does not know how to function properly without it, so the problem continues to perpetuate itself. This leads to alcohol dependence and alcoholism. Excessive drinking is also associated with structural changes in areas of the brain and functional changes that cause impairments to a person’s cognition and behavior. This can lead someone down the path to alcoholism. This s the most severe form of alcohol abuse and is described by the inability to manage drinking habits. If it is left untreated, it can quickly spiral out of control and ruin a person’s life. When it comes to alcohol abuse statistics, it never looks good in this country. According to NIH:

14.1 million adults ages 18 and older (5.6 percent of this age group) had AUD. This includes 8.9 million men (7.3 percent of men in this age group) and 5.2 million women (4.0 percent of women in this age group).

Only about 8% of those adults with alcohol use disorder in the past year received any kind of treatment. The best and safest option to getting off of and stay off alcohol is to find an s treatment program. With the help of our team of therapists, we offer one on one, group therapy, as well as many other specialized options to fit each person’s needs. Alcohol use disorder requires a multi-layered approach for maximum success. We want to make sure you have the tools you need to avoid relapse in the real world.

We Offer Professional Alcoholism Treatment

Alcohol use disorder isn’t an easy thing to face. Luckily you do not have to face it on your own. It may be challenging to recover, but it is not impossible. Our admissions counselors and professionals are available around the clock. We are ready to help you or a loved one overcome the disease of addiction. Now is the time to change your life. Let Evoke Wellness at Cohasset help you do it.