Why is Alcohol Addictive?

Alcohol can be a dangerously addictive substance. Most individuals are at least somewhat aware of the dangers of drinking alcohol, and treat the substance with caution. However, many are unaware of the science behind why alcohol is so addictive, as it requires a complex investigation of brain functioning. Alvarado Parkway Institute in San Diego treats those who struggle with alcohol addiction and are well-versed in why alcohol is addictive. They will explain what makes alcohol so addictive below, and if you have any further questions or are in need of addiction treatment contact API today by calling (619) 485-1432.

1. Alcohol Releases Dopamine in the Brain

Dopamine is the feel-good substance. A neurotransmitter in the brain, dopamine is released when we experience things that are deemed rewarding activities, giving you a pleasurable and happy feeling. Dopamine is released in the brain after enjoying a tasty meal, having sex, or drinking alcohol. The dopamine released when drinking alcohol can make you associate drinking with fun, enjoyment, and pleasure, and you will continue to drink to chase that steady drip of dopamine. The more you drink, the more your brain will associate alcohol with positive experiences.

2. The Brain Becomes Tolerant to Alcohol

The more you drink, the more your brain becomes tolerant to the effects of alcohol. This means that your brain will not suddenly release dopamine when you have a sip of alcohol. Instead, you have to work for it, drinking much more alcohol to get the same dopamine release and subsequent pleasure. When your tolerance level gets much higher, you are in the opening stages of addiction.

3. The Brain Gets Excited By Alcohol

Since you need to drink more and more alcohol to release dopamine, your brain is getting overwhelmed with large quantities of alcohol on a regular basis. Since alcohol is a depressant, this can slow down the central nervous system and cause a sense of alarm in the brain. To counteract the slowing effects of alcohol, the brain increases the activity of glutamate. Glutamate is an excitatory chemical in the brain, causing the brain to speed up activities. This is meant to get your body back to a homoeostasis but the result is that your brain literally gets “excited” by alcohol, whether that means drinking a beer or actually just being in the presence of booze.

4. You Need a Drink to Feel Normal

When the brain is in an amped up state, you will feel nervous, unable to sleep, and possibly even start developing the shakes. In order to feel normal again you will seek the solace of alcohol to slow your brain back down and lessen the effects of glutamate. This begins a slow, sad dance in which you need to drink to feel normal and you don’t feel normal because you drink. You are addicted.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment in San Diego at API

If you are struggling with alcohol addiction, you need help to get your brain and body back to its normal state. Alvarado Parkway Institute in San Diego offers expert alcohol addiction treatment, helping individuals get a fresh start and overcome a crippling addiction to alcohol or other substances. If you are interested in beginning treatment or have further questions about what makes alcohol addictive, contact Alvarado Parkway Institute today. Give us a call at (619) 485-1432.