Does Alcohol Help With Stress? Rodents May Have The Answer!
Does alcohol help with stress? More and more people are turning to the bottle to help them cope with life.
There is no doubt about it, we are living in a high-pressure world with big demands on us professionally and at home.
Parent’s are particularly struggling with this problem! Alcohol is marketed hard in their direction and it is becoming more and more available.
Years ago if you wanted to drink it meant a trip out to the pub or a local bar. These days people are more likely to stock up on their favorite tipple at the local supermarket.
A bottle of wine a night is all too common these days. The danger is that the more it goes on the more the problem grows. There is an element of social proof to this. If people look around and see all their friends drinking to this extent they are more likely to believe it is normal. There is no doubt that your friends agree that alcohol helps with stress!
For the avoidance of any doubt, a bottle of wine a night is not normal or healthy.
Does Alcohol Help With Stress?
But if so many are using alcohol to deal with life then there must be something to it, right? Does alcohol help with stress? It appears to but that is just another very clever illusion of the drug.
Some new research is out and it makes very interesting reading!
If you consume alcoholic drinks when you’re stressed, or on a regular basis to relax at the end of a hard day. This may be training your brain to drink more and more, your chances of developing a problem are all the more probable.
That’s the finding of a brand-new animal-based research study on the sensory effects of drinking. Us stressed out human beings really ought to take note of the results.
A cluster of test rodents was put into a heavily stressful situation for just over an hour. Sixteen hours later their blood was evaluated to discover how much of an alcohol-infused sugar-water they ‘d been consuming (a rat variation of a strong beer served at a free bar).
The analysts discovered that the stressed-out rats consumed considerably more of the alcohol solution than an unstressed control group. And here’s the truly fascinating part: the booze slurping went on for many weeks after the initial subjection to stress.
Alcohol Addiction Feeds Itself
Of course, people are not rats (well most of them), but the brain chemical make up required is remarkably similar, offering an effective reason to believe an identical factor is occurring in people brains when we reach for the Prosecco when we are stressed out.
The scientists assume high levels of stress reduce the brain’s regular response to alcohol. Particularly the dopamine response in the area of brain locations referred to as the ‘reward center’. When you chug back a drink in a low-stress scenario, your brain receives the alcohol and responds with a predictable reward center reaction. But when you drink in a high-stress environment (for example after a super tough day at work), that reaction is discreetly blunted.
It doesn’t quite provide the same kick which prompts the drinker to go hunting for more of the good stuff.
In other words, more drinking.
At least that’s what happened with the rodents. In fact, the study was so conclusive that it created identifiable modifications in their brains. The researchers stated that the reward circuitry in the rodents’ brains was visibly changed.
After the rats began drinking alcohol water their brain patterns looked different.
Nerve cells that would typically put the brakes on the reward response and say enough is enough, were changed to a “carry on drinking” setting. Convincing the rodents to keep drinking the booze without any indication of needing to quit.
To figure out if the consequences were reversible, the researchers gave the rats a chemical substance to recover the altered sensory wiring to its pre-stress condition, and it worked. The rats began drinking much less of the alcohol and water solution as their brains went back to normal.
This research pairs up well with a wealth of recent studies showing that our brain’s reward center is susceptible to subtle hijacking by alcohol. The slow quicksand of alcohol addiction most likely begins just by doing this for lots of people, with tension playing a crucial element in triggering the experience.
In short, we believe alcohol helps with stress but really the opposite is true!
“The stress reaction developed to protect us, but habit-forming stimulants use those devices. They trick our minds to keep us returning for more,” said study author Johnathan Dani, chairperson of the division of Neuroscience in the Institution of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Alcohol is Not Your Friend
I have said it before and I will say it again, alcohol is not your friend. Alcohol does not help you relax or deal with stress – no matter how much it feels like it does. Alcohol is the ultimate wolf in sheep’s clothing – it kills someone every 10 seconds (according to the World Health Organization). It does this because it is very good at creating believable deceptions.