Morphinelike chemicals released in both heavy and moderate drinkers
A shot of high-octane booze causes the brain to pump out its own version of morphine, a new study finds. If confirmed, the results may help explain why drinking the hard stuff feels good.
Many animal studies have found that alcohol can cause release of feel-good endorphins in the brain, but the new brain scan study, which appears in the Jan. 11 Science Translational Medicine, is the first to show the effect in humans and to home in on where the effect occurs.
Knowing exactly where alcohol causes its effects brings scientists closer to developing drugs that could block the “high” that alcohol brings without unpleasant side effects, says study coauthor Jennifer Mitchell of the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center in Emeryville, Calif., and the University of California, San Francisco. “I really think we’re close,” she says. “There’s a lot of hope.”