Alcohol and love – alike effects on the brain

Written by Leonescu Claudia

A recent study, published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, has found that alcohol and the “love hormone”, oxytocin have a nearly similar effect on the behaviour of individuals. Of course, we kind of already knew that at a subconscious level, right?

The Oxytocin hormone is linked to love, hugs, orgasms and everything else that’s intimate. Its role is rather huge in maternal bonding and it was also proved to be a key ingredient of those „tingly, butterfly-like” feelings you’re experincing when meeting a romantic partner.

A group of researchers from the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham to look into the similarities between oxytocin and alcohol. Dr. Ian Mitchell, one of the researchers stated, “We thought it was an area worth exploring, so we pooled existing research into the effects of both oxytocin and alcohol and were struck by the incredible similarities between the two compounds.”

The study compared neurological responses to nasally ingested oxytocin and heavy alcohol consumption. Their findings? Pleasently confirming that the two compounds share similiarities when it comes to the effect it has on our brains.

How exactly was it done? Dr. Mitchell explains “They appear to target different receptors within the brain, but cause common actions on GABA [an inhibitory neurotransmitter] transmission in the prefrontal cortex and the limbic structures. These neural circuits control how we perceive stress or anxiety, especially in social situations such as interviews, or perhaps even plucking up the courage to ask somebody on a date. Taking compounds such as oxytocin and alcohol can make these situations seem less daunting.”

They’ve also found that the negative effects and the „hangovers” are also present in both cases. Both compounds can cause people to become more aggressive and inclined to experience negative feelings, while still having to face that awful morning after. So, drinking a bottle of whiskey might not be as painful as being left by your lover, but it is surely somewhere near.

About the author

Leonescu Claudia

Initially when I turned to writing it was a decision made on some pretty shallow grounds, first off it was Carrie Bradshaw building a fire under my writing juices. Spicing that up with some reading, somewhere in my 2nd year of collage I was already fascinated. Margaret Laurence once said ”When I say work I only mean writing. Everything else is just odd jobs.” and I find that painfully true.
If it's something you're drawn to, you reach for it in any of its forms, either it's in a newspaper, on a blog, maybe a book or a novel or you just go full-freelancing, you reach for it:)

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