October 26, 2010
Alcohol Release More Dopamine In Men Than In Women

Men become alcoholics at higher rates than women. Why? Could be that men get more pleasure from drinking alcohol due to more dopamine neurotransmitter release.

Researchers from Columbia and Yale studied male and female college-age social drinkers in a laboratory test of alcohol consumption. After consuming an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink, each participant underwent a specialized positron emission tomography (PET) scan, an imaging technique that can measure the amount of alcohol-induced dopamine release.

Dopamine has multiple functions in the brain, but is important in this context because of its pleasurable effects when it is released by rewarding experiences, such as sex or drugs.

When you feel pleasure from drinking alcohol that's your ventral striatum talking.

Despite similar consumptions of alcohol, the men had greater dopamine release than women. This increase was found in the ventral striatum, an area in the brain strongly associated with pleasure, reinforcement and addiction formation.

"In men, increased dopamine release also had a stronger association with subjective positive effects of alcohol intoxication," explained Dr. Nina Urban, corresponding author for this study. "This may contribute to the initial reinforcing properties of alcohol and the risk for habit formation."

If you do repeated heavy drinking episodes you won't experience as much pleasure from the later episodes. So find some other way to get your kicks.

Dr. Anissa Abi-Dargham, senior author on this project, notes that "another important observation from this study is the decline in alcohol-induced dopamine release with repeated heavy drinking episodes. This may be one of the hallmarks of developing tolerance or transitioning into habit."

If you are feeling less pleasure from a potentially addictive substance then stop using it for a while or stop permanently.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 October 26 11:41 PM  Brain Addiction

TheBigHenry said at October 27, 2010 5:36 AM:

"Alcohol" is a singular noun; "Release" is a plural verb.

Phillep Harding said at October 28, 2010 11:23 AM:

I'm sure my ex could come up with a few comments re men, dopey, need for alcohol, etc.

Diane Johnson said at November 25, 2011 6:57 AM:

Both alcohol and drugs give pleasure. These substances determine a high release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine which have effects on brain and also on other organs. I've recently made a study at a drug rehab in Northern California which revealed that men are mostly liked to develop an addiction. Men have a more developed ventral striatum and this leads to a higher release of neurotransmitters.

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