Dopamine and Alcohol
They say we should avoid anyone or anything that detracts from our enjoyment and motivation, so why do we keep returning to alcohol?
Alcohol initially causes the motivating chemical dopamine to be released by the brain’s reward system. Systematic chronic drinking, on the other hand, depletes the quantity of dopamine in your brain over time, leading to a need for more alcohol and building the framework for alcohol addiction or dependency.
Alcoholism is a prevalent addiction that is linked to a large number of diseases.
The effectiveness of current attempts to prevent and treat alcoholism is quite low. Improving the outcomes of treatment and prevention initiatives requires a better understanding of the biological mechanisms that underpin addiction.
Up until now, the majority of research has concentrated on the dopamine system’s critical involvement in the complicated etiological network of alcoholism.
Understanding How Dopamine Works
We’ve been talking about dopamine from the beginning of this post, but what exactly is it? For those who don’t know, dopamine is a chemical messenger produced by our bodies and used by our nervous systems to communicate between nerve cells.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps us feel good. It has a significant impact on our ability to think and plan, in addition to providing pleasure.
It also encourages us to work hard, concentrate, and seek out new experiences. It is vital to our health, so consider that before you take another shot of your favorite alcoholic drink.
Can it be true that drinking alcohol is so bad for your brain? To be honest, while drinking increases a person’s dopamine levels at first, excessive and frequent binge drinking might cause the brain to adapt to the dopamine overflow.
Only a small quantity of dopamine is released in a healthy functioning brain, and it seldom fills all of the accessible dopamine receptors.
When too much dopamine is released, the brain effectively turns off dopamine receptors to regulate the chemical’s flow.
But why would the brain want to keep dopamine levels low?
That’s because too much dopamine can create emotions of pleasure, anger, and strong sexual desires.
Dopamine is one of the brain’s means of communicating some of our most fundamental wants and needs, and it “rewards” people for eating, drinking water, exercising, and having sex as a way to reinforce those behaviors—to keep doing the things that keep life going.
As previously stated, drinking alcohol increases dopamine levels, and if done frequently, the brain adapts.
It will then begin to produce less dopamine, decrease the number of dopamine receptors in the body, and increase dopamine transporters, which move excess dopamine between brain cells.
The Effect Of Binge Drinking On Dopamine
What impact will binge drinking have on you? Dopamine levels drop, and your mood suffers as a result.
As a result, alcoholics consume even more alcohol in an unconscious attempt to restore their dopamine levels and regain their spark.
Because you’re low on dopamine, you’ll turn to alcohol to boost your levels, but this will disable the brain’s built-in braking system, which restricts dopamine receptivity.
So is that the only issue? No, too much dopamine and even the most basic instincts can be harmful. It’s also why medicines that increase dopamine levels in the brain can be so addicting that people will continue to drink despite the repercussions.
The brain’s “brake” system is in charge of preventing the every day typically rewarding events, from becoming addicted behaviors.
Dopamine levels stay increased in the absence of this specific neurotransmitter as long as the person consumes alcohol. The euphoria that drinking provides the brain can make it impossible for a person to refrain from consuming alcohol.
This is why it’s crucial to drink in moderation!
We’re confident you don’t have to rely on booze to enjoy the ‘sparks’ of life, are you?
“Will a person’s dopamine levels stay messed up forever if he or she becomes hooked to alcohol?” you might worry. Dopamine is made in the brain, and the brain is an amazing organ! It is capable of amazing breakthroughs as well as life-changing ideas and deeds.
Researchers have shown that brains that have been injured by addiction can “unlearn” addictive behaviors, while the danger of addiction never goes away completely.
Brain Recovery After Alcohol Addiction
Several potential ways that the brain has adjusted back to a “baseline” level during and after addiction treatment have been investigated by researchers.
According to one study, including mindfulness and meditation in addiction treatment can reduce the chance of relapse. The study also suggests that mindfulness meditation can remodel brain networks that can lead to recurrence.
Apart from the excellent news that the brain may “unlearn” addictions, the brain can also mend itself after drug usage.
Researchers discovered that after a year of recovery, the number of dopamine proteins in the brain increases.
In addition to all of this good news, remember that you are no longer alone in your fight against alcohol.
You can seek help from friends in recovery, and experienced clinicians like Michaela Weaver can help you avoid typical relapse “triggers” to reduce their impact on the brain.
Avoiding people, places, and events linked to addictive behaviors, as well as learning new strategies to cope with disruptive or difficult emotions or life circumstances, are some examples.
So, how long does it take to recover from a drinking problem? Many medical practitioners recommend a ninety-day time frame for dopamine recovery.
Drugs, on the other hand, can cause long-term damage, with dopamine levels and brain cells taking a year or longer to heal.
So, drink in moderation and look after your brain. It’s a complicated organ with billions of neurons shooting messages to each other to sustain critical life functions, coordinate muscular action, and learn new skills.
Neural pathways aid in the effectiveness of repetitive actions and behaviors, which is beneficial for healthy habits such as exercise, playing an instrument, or cooking.
But, this same efficiency, on the other hand, might lead to substance abuse and make it difficult to overcome.
The brain, fortunately, has a high level of neuroplasticity. It can remodel neural pathways to overcome self-destructive habits and behaviors and develop new pathways leading to healthy and sober lifestyle choices.
Remember that you don’t need alcohol to enjoy the ‘sparks’ of life; all you need is a healthy brain.
Hi, I'm Michela
I’m a leader in the science of transformational freedom for women, and someone previously addicted to alcohol. I have walked the path. I understand your concerns and fears. Here you will find some of my thoughts and insights. Happy browsing!
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