Ever Wonder: What is Habit Forming Alcohol Use?
You know you have habit forming alcohol use when:
Why does alcohol mute happiness?
In the brain, alcohol initially boosts the effect of calming neurotransmitter GABA and releases feel-good endorphins that stimulate opioid receptors. However, as blood alcohol level rises, so does its toxic by-product acetaldehyde which is thought to be responsible for the next-day hangover and moodiness. Alcohol also negatively impacts sleep, as waning blood alcohol levels disrupt the brain’s natural sleep cycle and impede the ability to have a deep, restorative sleep that is crucial for next-day energy and mood stability.
Can habit drinking become a bigger problem?
A seemingly harmless habit can escalate into dependency as the brain’s feel-good receptors grow accustomed to the presence of high levels of alcohol in the blood to maintain a new homeostasis. In turn, the absence of alcohol signals the brain’s opioid receptors and reward pathways to cue alcohol-seeking behavior (i.e. cravings); in severe alcohol use disorder, the sudden discontinuation of alcohol can result in alcohol withdrawal symptoms that can progress to life-threatening seizures and delirium tremens – a syndrome that may include involuntary body shaking, confusion, hallucinations, and irregular heart rhythms.