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Why is alcohol addictive?

By | October 21st, 2020

Many people probably know that the neurotransmitter, dopamine, plays a large role in addictive behavior and there’s data which shows that alcohol increases the release of dopamine to certain parts of your brain; that’s one of the reasons why it’s addictive. And withdrawal to some extent is an effort from your brain to compensate for the lack of dopamine in other ways. Then, when you follow it up with another drink, you’re taking that on top of a compensatory reaction, so it’s a circular process which is ongoing. It’s a self-replicating circle; it’s not a good thing. It’s a dopamine-related addiction, which is very interesting because there’s an connection between the role of dopamine, addiction and alcohol abuse in Alzheimer’s disease. There are a lot of neurotransmitters which are dysregulated in your brain if you have Alzheimer’s, M.S. or Parkinson’s. We study one of them called noradrenalin, which is highly related to dopamine. Noradrenalin also plays a role in alcohol addiction and anxiety, so there may be some interesting similarities or common pathways that alcohol affects, and the process of Alzheimer’s disease affects. It’s possible that the two together are synergistic.

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