Signaling Problem In The Amygdala
When the researchers looked inside the rats brains, they discovered what might be disrupting the motivational control. First, they looked for differences in gene expression in different parts of the brain. The biggest differences were in the amygdala.
They revealed that the gene that codes for a protein called GAT-3 was expressed at much lower levels in the amygdala of the rats that continued to choose alcohol compared with the rats that switched to sugared water.
GAT-3 is a transporter protein that helps to clear away GABA from around neurons. Studies have also revealed that rats that become addicted to alcohol seem to have altered GABA signaling.
To confirm that the GAT-3 gene was at fault, the scientists ran another experiment in which they silenced GAT-3 in the rats that had switched over to sugared water in preference to alcohol.
The effect was striking: the GAT-3 silenced rats began to behave similarly to their alcohol-seeking counterparts. When they were again given a choice between dosing themselves with alcohol or sugared water, they chose alcohol.
Finally, in collaboration with a team from the University of Texas at Austin, the researchers analyzed GAT-3 levels in human postmortem brain tissue. They found that GAT-3 levels were lower in tissue taken from individuals with documented alcohol addiction.
The scientists believe that the findings will lead to improved treatments for alcohol dependence.
Who Uses And Who Abuses Alcohol
The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that 86% of American adults have drunk alcohol at some point in their lives. By the age of 15, up to 30% of American adolescents have already tried alcohol.
Some people may successfully limit their alcohol use to an occasional drink or social drinking. Medical advice and national dietary guidelines encourage adults to drink alcohol in moderation: up to 1 drink a day for women and up to 2 drinks a day for men.
Other people may be unable to drink alcohol without abusing it. These individuals may be referred to as binge drinkers or heavy drinkers. Binge drinking is defined as 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men on any occasion.
Heavy alcohol use, defined as binge drinking 5 or more days a month, puts you at risk of developing alcoholism. More than 33% of American adults and nearly 15% of American adolescents binge drink or drink heavily.
Treatment Options For Alcohol Misuse & Addiction
Alcohol addiction can lead to several devastating consequences. Nearly 90,000 people die each year due to alcohol-related causes. Alcohol is the third leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.
People who are physically dependent on alcohol will need the support of a healthcare professional to stop drinking.
Treatment options for alcohol misuse and addiction include inpatient care, outpatient care, or detoxprograms. The right treatment option depends on each person’s background and individual needs.
If you are struggling with alcohol use and addiction, see your health care provider for an evaluation. Your doctor can provide medical advice, make a treatment plan, and refer you to addiction treatment facilities.
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Why Is Alcohol Addictive Study Offers Clues
Research Could Lead to More Focused Medications for Heavy Drinkers
Jan. 11, 2012 — We know alcohol makes many people feel good, and that it affects the brain, but new research goes a step further by tightening the focus on areas of the brain most likely affected by alcohol.
Investigators say they have identified specific differences in how the so-called reward center of the brain responds to alcohol in heavy and light drinkers.
In both groups, drinking alcohol caused the release of naturally occurring feel-good opioids known as endorphins in two key brain regions associated with reward processing.
But heavy drinkers released more endorphins in response to alcohol, and they reported feeling more intoxicated than the lighter drinkers after drinking the same amount of alcohol. Learn more about the effects of alcohol on the brain.
The findings suggest that people whose brains release more natural opioids in response to alcohol may get more pleasure out of drinking and may be more likely to drink too much and become alcoholics, researcher Jennifer M. Mitchell, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco, says.
Greater endorphin release was associated with more hazardous drinking, Mitchell says. We believe this is an important step in understanding where and how alcohol acts in the brain.
The Effects Of Alcohol Abuse On The People You Love
Despite the potentially lethal damage that heavy drinking inflicts on the bodyincluding cancer, heart problems, and liver diseasethe social consequences can be just as devastating. Alcoholics and alcohol abusers are much more likely to get divorced, have problems with domestic violence, struggle with unemployment, and live in poverty.
But even if youre able to succeed at work or hold your marriage together, you cant escape the effects that alcoholism and alcohol abuse have on your personal relationships. Drinking problems put an enormous strain on the people closest to you.
Often, family members and close friends feel obligated to cover for the person with the drinking problem. So they take on the burden of cleaning up your messes, lying for you, or working more to make ends meet. Pretending that nothing is wrong and hiding away all of their fears and resentments can take an enormous toll. Children are especially sensitive and can suffer long-lasting emotional trauma when a parent or caretaker is an alcoholic or heavy drinker.
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Do You Misuse Alcohol
Sometimes it can be challenging to draw the line between safe alcohol consumption and the misuse of alcohol. If you answer yes to some of the following questions, you may misuse alcohol:
- Do you need to drink more to feel the effects of alcohol?
- Do you feel guilty about your alcohol consumption?
- Do you become irritable or angry when you are drinking?
- Do you have issues at school or work because of drinking?
- Do you think you should reduce your alcohol intake?
Physical And Psychological Addiction To Alcohol
If a person continues the pattern of drinking heavily to reach a familiar level, eventually, they will begin to not feel normal without some alcohol. This is known as a psychological addiction because the act of drinking alcohol becomes habitual and they need it in order to feel good or like their normal selves. Physical addiction occurs once a person is unable to stop drinking without experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which include anxiety, shakiness, and on the more extreme end, seizures severe shaking, confusion, and hallucinations.
This physical and psychological addiction stems from the effect that alcohol has on the brain. In a 2012 study, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco found that drinking alcohol releases endorphins in two areas of the brain that are associated with reward processing. This study also concluded that people who identified as heavy drinkers had a higher release of these feel good chemicals.
That is truly the core of why alcohol is so addictive. It hits, at the chemical level, multiple areas in the brain. And it hits at a psychological level, leaving the person unable to function without it. As weve discussed, the higher tolerance makes the high that is achieved from this endorphin release and from the different psychological triggers exceedingly difficult to achieve and, unfortunately, alcoholism follows.
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Is Craving Alcohol Normal
A craving is a sensation or a thought or a feeling that urges one to drink. There is no way to classify such cravings. Anything could remind someone of drinking and trigger a craving. There are two sorts of triggers that could cause someone to crave alcohol.
- External triggers
An external trigger is a person, place, thing that could remind a person of drinking.
- Internal triggers
An internal trigger may be more difficult to spot, because they simply can just pop up in ones mind. If a mind stops to deliberate on it, which it usually does, the trigger will become more persuasive, quickly developing into a craving.
One can feel a craving to drink when something good happens, and they feel compelled to go out and celebrate. On the flip side, when something bad happens, cravings could arise in an attempt to soothe the situation.
Craving alcohol is normal. For starters, if one drinks with their friends and has a good time, and has learned to associate alcohol with fun, they may frequently feel compelled to drink. In a more scientific explanation, alcohol activates neurons in the brain responsible for pleasure. A natural instinct of humans is to want to prolong and intensify feelings of euphoria.
Alcohol Dependence Can Contribute To Mental Health Problems
Anxiety, depression and suicidal feelings can all develop when youre alcohol dependent. This is because regular, heavy drinking interferes with neurotransmitters in our brains that are needed for good mental health.
Being dependent on alcohol can affect your relationships with your partner, family and friends. It might mean you dont perform so well at work and if that continues for any length of time you could face losing your job, leading to financial problems as well. These issues can also contribute to depression and anxiety. Alcohol can also make you more aggressive. If you use alcohol to try and improve your mood, you may be starting a vicious cycle.
If you think your mental health is suffering because of your drinking, but you feel youre not able to stop, ask for professional help. Start with a visit to your GP or by contacting one of the organisations listed at the end of this page.
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Alcohol Is Socially Acceptable
Kids could watch cartoon characters chugging a bottle of beer, beer commercials can be watched during the Super Bowl, mom and dad will drink a glass of wine during dinner, dad will give us our first sip of beer when we are barely in elementary school. Yet, this substance is one of the most deadly and addictive on the planet.
Alcohol is so addictive simply because it is legal and so accessible. You could go out and score some heroin, but you run the risk of spending the next few years in jail. Alcohol is a legal and far less expensive substitute. Read this article to learn exactly why alcohol is so addictive. The article will also explore what causes someone to become an alcoholic.
How To Get Help For Alcohol Addiction And Substance Abuse
If you or a loved one are drinking a lot of alcohol and think there may be a problem, Caron can help. At Caron, we provide comprehensive evaluation and treatment for AUD and substance use disorders . We believe that recovery isnt just possible, its probable. Call today and start healing tomorrow. Were just one call away at 844-260-1324.
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Number 5 Choice And Lifestyle
So its true restrictive choice forces us into a corner where we make decisions we would not normally make.
One of my passions for this blog is to review alcohol free products mainly drink but also health care as well after people told me that getting them was difficult or they felt judged. Oh the irony I thought! You cant do right for doing wrong!
When I came out of hospital and did some training on blogs and I began creating what has turned into a great experience with people all over the world commenting and sharing their views.
However, one thing that really struck me was that we live in an alcohol dominated world and as a left-hander I know what that feels like!
In some research done by the University of Newcastle and Bristol they discovered that given a choice people would choose alcohol free beers and gin as much as they would go for the alcohol option. More choice = different decisions.
However, there were a few caveats a hang over of course from years ago when alcoholic choice options were not great but now people would go for them if :
- They had to taste nice not that awful stuff that used to be served in bars
- It had to be price fair and people were not penalized for drinking non-alcoholic options
- Choice was there and available, in other words not difficult to find which it is in bars it still is to be fair
- The attitude of people around had to be right including bar staff! Not the what you drink that for brigade
Alcohol & Psychological Addictions
People can be psychologically addicted to alcohol without actually being physically addicted to it. This occurs when the brain associates pleasure and reward with the consumption of alcohol.
Psychological addiction can also describe the limiting belief that one needs a substance in order to function. In the case of alcohol, this is often seen when people believe that they need a drink in order to socialize.
While their body might not actually be dependent on alcohol, they have developed a belief that encourages them to drink whenever theyre around people.
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In The Past Year Have You:
- Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended?
- More than once, wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldnt?
- Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over other aftereffects?
- Wanted a drink so badly you couldnt think of anything else?
- Found that drinking or being sick from drinking often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job problems? Or school problems?
- Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
There are many more questions. When the questionnaire is complete, the person filling it out will note how many of the questions they recognized. The results will indicate the level of AUD, ranging from mild to intense.
What Makes Alcohol Addictive
Alcohol is the most commonly used drug in the U.S. More than 15 million American adults suffer from alcohol addiction, which can be caused by genetics, stress, and physical reactions in the brain and body. People who are suffering from alcohol addiction can be treated in Vertava Health alcohol rehab programs.
At least once a day, the average American sees images that depict alcohol as a way to celebrate, relax, or toast a special moment. While many people can enjoy an occasional social drink, millions of others struggle with the shame and confusion of alcohol addiction.
Many may wonder why some people become addicted to alcohol and others do not. There are several factors that influence what makes alcohol addictive, including the physical and psychological impacts of the drug. Because of the way alcohol interacts with both the brain and body, it is considered a highly addictive substance.
Alcohol addiction can lead to a number of devastating consequences. Nearly 90,000 people die each year due to alcohol-related causes. This makes alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.
The only way to change these numbers is to collectively gain a broader understanding of what exactly makes alcohol so addictive. If you or someone you love is currently battling alcohol addiction, there is help available. Vertava Health offer personalized alcohol rehab programs throughout the country.
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Addictive Properties Of Alcohol
Once a persons brain adapts to frequent drinkingthey will experience withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which means that consuming alcohol reduces, or inhibits, overall brain activity. The most important way alcohol inhibits brain activity is by increasing signaling by a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid .
GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, and drugs that increase GABA signaling are used as sedatives, muscle-relaxants, and anti-anxiety medications, among other things. Increased inhibitory signaling in the brain due to alcohol is the reason people who drink excessively slur their speech, have difficulty walking, and suffer memory loss or blackouts.
If a person drinks alcohol often, their brain will adapt to the increased inhibition by increasing excitatory signaling through neurotransmitters like glutamate. The neural activity of glutamate essentially opposes that of GABA and results in a generalized increase in brain cell excitation or firing rate. Such adaptations lead to tolerance in problem drinkersover time, these individuals must drink more and more to experience the same effects from alcohol. This begins a vicious cycle of increased drinking followed by greater tolerance that eventually leads to dependence and addiction.
As alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and travels throughout the body, its effects can be felt almost immediately:
Who Is More At Risk Of Developing Alcohol Use Disorder
Certain factors like age, family history, genetics, and others, can make a person more at risk of developing alcohol use disorder . The presence of any of the below factors can make a person more at risk of developing alcohol addiction.
- Drinking earlier One study found that among people ages 26 and older, those who began drinking before age 15 were more than five times as likely to report having AUD as those who waited until they were of legal age to begin drinking.
- Genetics Heritability has an impact on approximately 60 percent of alcohol-addicted persons.
- Socioeconomic factors Individuals from affluent neighborhoods are more likely to drink than those living below poverty.
- Mental health conditions A wide range of psychiatric conditions are comorbid with AUD and are associated with an increased risk of AUD. People with a history of childhood trauma are also more vulnerable to AUD.
- Family history of alcoholism People who have a family history of alcoholism or grew up around an alcoholic family member are more likely to develop alcoholism later in life.6
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