The Truth About Alcohol

Alcohol is pure poison to the body. Ethyl alcohol (ethanol) is the drinkable alcohol we find in our alcoholic beverages, and even though it’s drinkable it’s still toxic as demonstrated by the body’s attempt to eradicate it when we consume it.

Alcohol throws off the balance in the pleasure centre of the brain. As we drink alcohol dopamine gets dumped into our system, creating that “buzzed” feeling and makes us want more of what gave us the pleasure. The brain then seeks to protect itself from the toxins in the alcohol, so it releases a chemical downer, dynorphin, a naturally occurring painkiller that has been linked to depression. Dynorphin numbs all pleasure equally, and drinking alcohol leads to a muted pleasure response to enjoyable life experiences. This explains why, with prolonged alcohol use, a person can no longer find happiness apart from drinking and with regular heavy drinking, dynorphin levels are so high that even the alcohol ceases to provide the illusion of pleasure.

As the effects of the first drink wears off, dynorphin suppresses our initial feeling of euphoria and our sense of well-being falls below where it was when we started drinking. The elevated dopamine levels then make us crave more of what made us feel good, so we have another glass of wine.

The amount of alcohol it takes to feel that initial euphoria is different for everyone, and the more we drink regularly, the more alcohol it takes to get there, and once we are there it only lasts about 20 minutes. Then it’s gone. We spend the rest of the evening trying to get that feeling back. But, due to our body’s need for chemical balance, no matter how much we subsequently drink, that feeling will not return. In other words, whether we drink a glass or a bottle of wine, we are only going to experience approximately 20 minutes of artificial euphoria.