Scientists prove why drinking alcohol is fun and addictive

Scientists prove why drinking alcohol is fun and addictive

Many people continue to drink in an unhealthy way even though they know it is killing them. Why? They are emotionally addicted in the brain.

This fascinating study found for the first time that alcohol releases ‘pleasure and reward’ opioids into the brain’s reward centres and makes people feel better because it produces the same chemicals in the brain as exercising and laughing. You can get the same high from laughing and exercising – all without the toxic cancer growth and liver damage.

The results suggest that differences in endogenous opioid function in drinkers foster excessive alcohol consumption and leads to alcohol abuse. Jennifer Mitchell, PhD, from the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center in Emeryville, California, and colleagues said “Our data are consistent with the hypothesis that drinking alcohol leads to the release of an endogenous opioid, which binds to MORs in the [orbital frontal cortex] and NAc, two brain regions critical for reward processing. In addition, this study confirms and extends preclinical studies indicating that endogenous opioids acting at MORs in the NAc promote drinking. This indicates that the brains of heavy or problem drinkers are changed in a way that makes them more likely to find alcohol pleasant, and may be a clue to how problem drinking develops in the first place. That greater feeling of reward might cause them to drink too much. This is something that we’ve speculated about for 30 years, based on animal studies, but haven’t observed in humans until now. It provides the first direct evidence of how alcohol makes people feel good”. Also, the data raise the possibility that opioid release in the orbital frontal cortex enhances the oral experience of drinking alcohol and may stimulate more consumption”.

Study by Mitchell J, et al “Alcohol consumption induces endogenous opioid release in the human orbitofrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens” as published in Science Translational Medicine 2012; 4: 116ra6. As reported by MedPage Today, the Telegraph, London and the Sydney Morning Herald, 2012.

Posted: Wednesday 26 September 2012

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