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Why Does Being Drunk Feel Good

by Annabel Caldwell
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Why Does Being Drunk Feel Good

Why Does Being Drunk Feel Good

When the concentration of alcohol begins to increase in your bloodstream, you’ll start to feel good. You might feel happy, more social and confident, and less inhibited. This is because alcohol stimulates the release of dopamine and serotonin, which are rightfully referred to as your “feel good” hormones.

You’ve probably heard that it’s a bad idea to drink too much. Your body will be damaged if you do; you could even die from drinking too much water. But what happens when you’re just slightly tipsy? Why does being drunk feel so good?
It’s common knowledge that there are many reasons why we get drunk. Theories include one or more of these factors:
Your brain releases dopamine and other neurotransmitters when you experience pleasurable events, like sex, food, exercise, music, comedy, gambling, etc. When you have too much to drink, your brain releases dopamine because it feels pleasure and reward for having had a few drinks. Dopamine makes us want to repeat an enjoyable activity over and over again. It also helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle and appetite. If you don’t use up all the dopamine released by drinking, some gets stored away for later use.
Serotonin is another hormone that plays a role in feeling good. Serotonin affects things like mood, energy levels, pain perception, ability to concentrate, sleep, eating behavior, memory function, temperature regulation and blood pressure. Alcohol can cause a rise in both dopamine and serotonin, making people feel relaxed, happy and euphoric. In fact, scientists think that this is how humans first learned to control their environment — through the effects of small amounts of alcohol.
The next time you find yourself wondering why you enjoy getting drunk so much, remember that it has nothing to do with intelligence, willpower or morality. Instead, it comes down to something very simple: biology.
Alcohol Effects on Brain Function
Researchers at Yale University School of Medicine found that when men drank about two drinks (for women, about 1.2) per hour), they were able to perform tasks requiring high mental capacity better than those who didn’t consume any alcohol. Researchers believe that this may help explain why moderate drinkers tend to live longer lives than nondrinkers. However, binge drinkers did not show such improved performance after consuming higher doses of alcohol.
Alcohol is believed to impair thinking skills by slowing reaction times and inhibiting short-term memory functions. Research shows that alcohol interferes with the formation of new memories by reducing protein synthesis in the hippocampus. As a result, people under its influence often feel impaired when recalling recent events. Drinking also impairs judgment and increases aggressive behaviors. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience showed that rats exposed to alcohol performed poorly on maze tests compared to controls. Even though researchers know that alcohol damages neurons, they aren’t sure exactly where the damage occurs.
In addition to affecting cognitive abilities, alcohol can affect motor movements. For example, it causes tremors and slurred speech. Studies show that alcohol can actually make people more likely to fall while walking, especially if they suffer from Parkinson’s disease or Lou Gehrig’s syndrome. Alcoholics sometimes seem to walk differently, swaying side to side instead of straight ahead. These symptoms can happen during intoxication but also after sobriety.
Studies conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggest that alcohol may alter nerve pathways involved in controlling breathing patterns and heart rate. Nerve cells called Purkinje fibres monitor movement and coordinate muscle contractions. They pass messages from different parts of the cerebellum to the rest of the nervous system. When alcohol enters the brain, it binds itself to proteins located in these nerve cells. This prevents signals from traveling along them, causing irregular heartbeat, slow breathing and loss of consciousness.
Another reason why alcohol can cause euphoria is due to the way it acts on receptors in the brain. Scientists discovered that ethanol attaches to specific receptor sites on cell membranes rather than acting directly on the central nervous system. When you inhale alcohol, it reaches your brain within seconds. Ethanol molecules attach themselves to special sites on neuron cell walls, blocking certain chemicals from interacting with other neurons. That means the amount of alcohol consumed determines whether someone experiences a “high.” People who take in larger quantities of alcohol experience stronger feelings of happiness, relaxation, excitement, well-being, etc., than those who drink smaller amounts.
How to Get Drunk Safely

If you’re going out for a night on the town, here are some tips to keep in mind to avoid becoming a casualty of your own fun:
Plan activities before leaving home: Before heading out, try to plan everything beforehand. Doing so gives you enough time to prepare and reduces the risk of falling victim to distractions like loud noises, unexpected company or rowdy friends.

Be smart about alcohol content: Don’t buy cheap beer at the liquor store. Buy full strength beers only. Also, be aware that there are many types of alcoholic beverages sold in bars and restaurants, including wine coolers, margaritas, daiquiris and mojitos. Know the limits of your favorite bar’s menu and stick with light beer or soda when visiting a friend’s house.

Stay sober: Do your best to stay sober. Avoid driving and stay away from excessive noise and lights. Try to minimize any contact with strangers.

Have designated drivers: Have a driver pick you up, drop you off and then return to the car safely. Make sure he doesn’t drive under the influence himself. Let him know you trust his judgement.

Don’t drink alone: Having a companion or close family member accompany you isn’t always possible, but it’s still wise to travel in pairs. If you must go solo, you should choose a public place where you won’t meet anyone unfamiliar.

Avoid mixing alcohol with depressants: Although most depressant medications work faster and stronger when combined with alcohol, mixing depressants and stimulants can lead to serious health complications.

Remember… Too Much Alcohol Can Hurt!

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