Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Myth of "Light" Alcohol and Why Social Drinking might be Better than Drinking Alone - Addiction and Confused Conditioning


Light Alcohol?

The equation is simple, servings seem designed to give you roughly equivalent amount of alcohol. Either 50 ml of whiskey or vodka, 200 ml of wine or 500 ml of beer.

There could be light alcohol beverages only if you take smaller servings for their taste, such as a cup (200 ml) of beer or 100 ml of wine.

Some experienced drinkers even say that the "lighter" alcohol in the list - beer - is the "heavier" - giving you the worst hang-over. Maybe because they rarely take just 500 ml... Most drinkers don't stop with the first doze, of course, and are not satisfied with smaller dozes simply because they are addicted to the effect of the alcohol (so they need enough to trigger the effect), they don't just like the taste of the beverage.

Difference between loner and social drinking regarding addiction

However, what's the difference between social drinking and drinking alone and is there a reason social one to be less dangerous? The explanation put below is simple, my focus is mainly on the process of addiction, namely: in order to get addicted to a substance or a stimulus, brain has to be capable to recognize the cause reliably. What if it's confused, miss-conditioned?

Loner drinkers

- Loner drinkers are more likely depressed, have lower self-esteem, they are already in trouble. (It's not always the case, though) Alcohol gives them a bit of relaxation, triggers some dopamine, they get addicted to this and repeat. Also while drinking for the sake of drinking without being engaged in other activities, mind is focused strongly on this and brain can easily recognize the reason for relaxation and the dopamine produced does reinforce those circuits and the subject gets addicted to alcohol drinking.

Social drinkers

- Social drinkers are more likely easy-going, hanging out with friends or seducing women/men(however this is not strictly true either, they may be also depressed ones, who just go to get drunk in public). However, social interactions during drinking may generate oxytocin and dopamine themselves and brain is confused about what is causing the elevation in the mood - the alcohol or the socialization, and I guess it's less likely to fixate only on one of them. Moreover they both may be wrongly conditioned together and the subject would more likely get addicted to going out with friends/socializing, while drinking, which is generally more healthy than loner drinking (unless you're all alcoholics anyway and get drunk to death together).

However, even just socializing may give you the right doze of relaxation and enjoyment - teenagers love hanging out with friends (and this is often listed as "what you love to do" in social network sites) before they discover the "beauty" of getting drunk, when they build a wrong association between socialization, alcohol, relaxation and enjoyment.

You don't need alcohol to socialize, relax and have fun.

Photography taken by: me, T.A.

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