DISCLAIMER: This article isn’t meant to promote the act of being drunk nor do we condone excessive drinking. Always drink responsibly.
Ah, the joys (and woes too, but read the title) of being drunk. If you clicked on this post, there’s a 10-1 possibility that you’ve been drunk yourself. But how and why does being in an impaired state of mind caused from a huge intake of alcohol evoke such a sense of happiness?
Before we go any further, I’d like for you to think of reasons why anybody would intentionally get drunk at all. If I remember correctly from what I wrote in an older article, humans mainly drink to chill out, have fun or forget.
All of the aforementioned reasons can be achieved through a couple of drinks (plus change for you party animals). I hope you’re sober enough right now to remember those reasons cause it’ll make this post easier to understand the further we get into it.
Yo GABA GABA
Weird subheading sure, but bear with me ’cause it’ll make sense in a minute. Those of us who’ve drank our fair share of alcohol are privy to its stress-reducing effects, which is a major reason why so many drink in the first place – ‘to chill out’, remember?
So basically, there’s this thing found in our brains responsible for stress reduction called GABA, or Gamma-Aminobutyric acid for you scholarly types, which is a neurotransmitter and the brain’s primary inhibitory molecule.
When we consume alcohol, a flood of GABA is sent to our brain cells resulting in a tranquillising effect. This is the reason why you’ll gradually slur and stumble after one too many drinks in. Does that subheading make more sense now? Maybe not, but let’s soldier on.
*GABA isn’t the only neurotransmitter affected by alcohol, you’ll see.
Whatever, Never Mind
So far we’ve established that alcohol increases GABA, but have you ever wondered how we become more confident and act on impulse rather than careful judgement when we’re faded? This is because alcohol reduces the uptake of glutamate.
Glutamate is the neurotransmitter which plays a role in learning and memory – under normal circumstances that is. Chill out, have fun and forget. So for mornings where you have no idea how you ended up home at all, thank your brain’s lack of sufficient glutamate.
Stick with me because here’s where it starts to get super complicated (if it wasn’t already before). If you didn’t know, our brains are comprised of different regions. GABA and glutamate affect each of them differently.
In the prefrontal cortex, which your brain uses for thinking and planning, those abilities become inhibited. This is what causes impaired judgment in addition to a ‘come what may’ attitude in regards to decision-making.
This clouds your ability to see things from perspectives other than your own. Conversely, this side effect makes your thoughts seem extremely clear when in reality, your brain is just tricking yourself into thinking so.
Opening The Floodgates
As your judgement turns hazier, GABA sneakily turns off the switch in our brains that halts the release of dopamine (neurotransmitter which makes us feel pleasure). Guess what happens next? A surge of dopamine coursing into the striatum.
Striatum is the region of the brain that generates desire, anticipation and when that first sip touches your lips, pleasure. So now you’re chilled out yet turnt up – which means having fun or excited for our older readers – and should you continue to drink:
Good luck recalling what happened the night before!
I’ve only scratched the surface of what alcohol does to our brains, but that’s not what this article about now is it? You wanted to know why getting drunk is such an insanely fun past-time, so I hope you have at least a slight idea of why that is now.
That being said, I must stress the importance of drinking responsibly and doing it in moderation. If you’re too inebriated, be sure to have a designated driver or call a Grab to send you home.
Perhaps this might count as an inappropriate segue, but ain’t no fun if you can’t have none.
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