If you are an adult reading this article, you have most likely experienced the pleasures of alcohol. It is the "free pass" drug - something we can indulge in legally as long as we were smart enough to plan out our travel plans afterward. Alcohol is one of the world’s favorite recreational drugs. After a drink, most people become more sociable, less stressed, and happier, and will probably reach for another drink before too long. Alcohol in a drink does a multitude of things for these "feelings" to occur.
When you sip that tasty grown up drink, the ethanol goes to your stomach and small intestine, where it is rapidly absorbed into your bloodstream. Some of the ethanol gets broken down in the liver to give you energy, and some of it gets to the brain.
Once in the brain, it interferes with various kinds of neurotransmitters—the messenger to the brain to start or stop various activities. Below are some researched thoughts on some effects of alcohol consumption.
Alcohol is thought to affect two of the brain’s most important neurotransmitters: glutamate, which stimulates brain electrical activity, and GABA, which inhibits it. Alcohol blocks the effects of glutamate and enhances the effects of GABA, so the overall thought that alcohol acts as a depressant, making you more sociable and relaxed.
Because of its sedative effects, alcohol makes falling asleep easier. However, it reduces the quality of sleep, because it shortens two of the three sleep phases—the slow-wave and rapid-eye-movement (REM) phases. REM sleep is also to critical to memory formation, and it is one reason why drinking too much is associated with blackouts.
Drinking can numb pain—not just emotional distress, but actual physical pain. Alcohol waters down the pain signals that sensory neurons send to the brain. However, this effect is said to be highly variable and doesn’t happen in everyone.
The alcoholic “high”
Alcohol isn’t just a depressant. It also stimulates the production of dopamine, the chemical associated with many pleasurable activities such as sex, good food, and playing video games. Dopamine is a key part of the reward-motivation system in the brain. The more dopamine an activity releases, the more likely you are to engage in that activity for another shot of dopamine release.
Beyond the mind, alcohol has other physical effects. Most people feel a certain amount of warmth after a drink—sometimes called a “beer jacket”—but you in fact get colder faster. This is because alcohol messes with the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that, among other things, regulates body temperature. Normally, when you feel cold, your body reduces blood flow to your skin and directs it to the organs, to preserve your core temperature. Alcohol reverses that reflex, sending blood to the skin, which makes you feel warm. But it also means more heat is leaking from your warm blood to the outside world, so if you’re not dressed warmly enough you can be at risk of hypothermia.
Men and women respond differently to alcohol and sex. For men, in general, alcohol reduces both arousal and pleasure. For women, sexual arousal goes up but pleasure goes down.
All these effects vary from person to person based on factors such as genetics, body size, and meal times. But when you have too much to drink, all the effects become more intense and of course, you are at risk of spending the night staring into a toilet bowl. Consistently drinking too much damages development of the brain, harms the heart and your body overall, and can increase the risk of cancer.
If you choose to drink, think ahead and be mindful. Alcohol is addictive, so frequent consumption can develop into a problem and a gut to match. I am sure people, especially men, do not enjoy appearing "pregnant" from a beer gut. Lastly, hundreds of senseless deaths occur every year. This ranges from people consuming more than their body can handle to those who make bad decisions and get behind the wheel.
Drink safely & responsibly and detox with Iaso Tea to keep your body in working order.
Khyrunnessa Rabbani - I am perfectly imperfect! Passionate believer if you love your body and yourself and the rest will fall into place.