There’s nothing like the feeling of cracking open a cold beer or taking that first sip from a glass of wine. I love to explore my favorite liquor store near me to check out the latest offerings after a long day. Alcohol is perfect for the party scene because it helps most people feel more sociable.
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Anyone who has ever been to an awkward brunch knows that a pitcher of mimosas will make everything better. The reason for this is simple: alcohol affects the brain. As you sip your cocktail, the brain releases more dopamine, causing a feeling of pleasure. Other short-term effects include:
- greater confidence
- mild difficulty with coordination
- flushed cheeks
- decreased attention
- faster heartbeat
It is obvious why alcohol is so popular with partygoers. If you are feeling tired and grumpy, a bit of alcohol can get you revved up for a night out. Even a small amount of alcohol can make you feel ready to take on the world.
The Chemistry of Alcohol
Humans have been consuming alcohol for thousands of years, but scientists still don’t agree on precisely why it affects us. Alcohol has many unique chemical properties that are aren’t fully understood. Experts now believe that a special chemical receptor in our brain cells may be responsible.
Neurons, or brain cells, use chemicals to communicate with one another. Without these chemical messages, the brain would cease to function. Each chemical activates a matching receptor like a key fitting into a lock
Alcohol is thought to activate the GABA receptor, which is responsible for the body’s inhibitions. A complex set of chemical reactions occurs each time you sip that cabernet.
Luckily, you don’t have to understand the mysteries of brain chemistry to enjoy a margarita!
It is important to remember that alcohol affects everyone differently. Genetics, body weight, and how much food and water you have consumed can all have an impact. For maximum fun, stay hydrated! You may be running to the restroom, but it will be worth it when you stay headache-free.
The long-term negative consequences of excessive alcohol consumption are well known. Decades of alcohol abuse can have devastating effects on the body. However, the occasional drink can have several positive effects beyond the pleasurable sensation of mild intoxication.
Having one drink a day may actually reduce your risk of getting heart disease and diabetes. Studies have also shown a link between moderate alcohol consumption and decreased risk of death from some forms of stroke. Who knew a glass of chardonnay could pack a helpful punch?
There is no substitute for a healthy lifestyle. Any benefits of moderate alcohol consumption would only be increased when accompanied by a balanced diet and regular exercise.
Keep in mind that too much alcohol can really put a damper on your festivities. If you experience any of the following symptoms, it may be time to order a tall glass of water instead of that IPA:
- mood swings
- slurred speech
- nausea or vomiting
No one wants to have to clean up that party foul. This is why alcohol ads always contain two little words: drink responsibly. As long as you follow that golden rule, you and your friends will be able to party all night long.
So next time you reach for that pint of beer or that glass of pinot, remember that a complicated dance of chemicals is responsible for your good time. Add some friends into the mix and you’ve got a recipe for an unforgettable night.