18 January 2012

Alcohol Makes You Happy - Official

Yes. It is once again time to delve into a recent study that has now proven what many of us could have told them for free, that alcohol does infact release endorphins and creates feeling of pleasure, satisfaction and happiness.

I should explain. Scientists have suspected this to be the case for 30 years. After carrying out experiments using animals, they found that alcohol releases and affects the "pleasure centre" of the brain, occupied with pleasure and reward. Meaning endorphins are released in one specific area of the brain.

A recent study has found that this is only partly true. We now know that endorphins are actually released in two different areas of the brain, the nucleus accumbens, and the orbitofrontal cortex. Scientists used a PET scan to observe which areas "light up" when stimulated by alcohol creating the first direct and clear evidence of alcohols affect on happiness.

The study was carried out on 13 "heavy drinkers" and 12 "control subjects". All participants were observed to have increased levels of endorphins after drinking alcohol. The more it was released in the nucleus accumbens, are of the brain, the greater the pleasure reported was.

Interestingly, when the levels of endorphins in the orbitofrontal cortex increased, heavy drinkers reported feeling more intoxicated but not those who were part of the control group.

This leads researchers to believe that brains of heavy drinkers are actually changed in such a way that makes them more likely to find alcohol pleasant.

So next time you are enjoying yourself, after several drinks too many, bear in mind that this may in fact put you into a "heavy drinker" category. Also bear in mind that are most likely having a better time than most other people at the party!

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