JUL 18, 2017 4:36 AM PDT

The Chemistry Behind the Buzz


Many people enjoy a cold beer on a hot day or a cocktail or glass of wine, and while the taste of certain drinks is appealing to many, for others, the pleasant buzz of a drink or two is also part of the attraction. That buzz comes from the kind of alcohol in spirits and other drinks: ethanol. In the brain, ethanol binds to two different receptors, GABA and NMDA. GABA receptors control behavior, so when the ethanol kicks in, there's a decrease in that inhibition and people loosen up a little. When it binds to NMDA, which controls fatigue and memory, a person can feel very upbeat and happy but will lose memories of what happens while they drink.

Ethanol also causes the brain to release cortisol, norepinephrine, and adrenaline, causing an increased heart beat and even hyperactivity. But wait, there's more! Dopamine, the feel good hormone is also released when we drink. Eventually, though, the effects wear off, and then the sudden drop in all of these hormones and neurotransmitters can make for a nasty time. One chemical ingested can cause all these reactions, and that can lead to problems if alcohol isn't being used responsibly. Paying attention to how much you drink, what you have to eat along with it, and staying hydrated are all important parts of making sure the chemical reactions caused by your celebration don't get the best of you.
About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
You May Also Like
MAR 22, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 22, 2020
SpaceX to Send Astronauts to the ISS for the First Time in May
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program opened the door to the possibility that American commercial space companies like Bo ...
MAR 29, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 29, 2020
NASA is Sending This Golden Box to Mars to Make Oxygen
NASA’s Perseverance rover, formerly known as just the Mars 2020 rover, will do quite a bit more than merely drive ...
APR 01, 2020
Earth & The Environment
APR 01, 2020
New Global Water Maps & U.S. Drought Forecasts Available to the Public
Yesterday, NASA’s Global Climate Change team announced that new global groundwater maps and U.S. drought forecasts ...
APR 13, 2020
Space & Astronomy
APR 13, 2020
Here's Why Humans Need Spacesuits When Exploring Other Earth-Like Worlds
At one point, the idea of colonizing another planet was merely science fiction. But as technology evolves and space agen ...
APR 28, 2020
Space & Astronomy
APR 28, 2020
NASA's Swift Telescope Measured the Water Loss of This Interstellar Comet
When the interstellar comet 2l/Borisov made its first appearance in our solar system, astronomers were quick to turn the ...
MAY 03, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAY 03, 2020
These Contractors Will Develop Lunar Landers for NASA's Artemis Mission
NASA seems to be moving quickly to get the ball rolling for its lunar-centric initiative dubbed Artemis. The program aim ...
Loading Comments...