When you drink that first alcoholic beverage, you probably do not expect to make drinking a new habit despite the pleasurable effects it gives you. However, a new study showed that constantly experiencing the pleasurable effects of habitual drinking can make you more likely to develop alcohol use disorder. By going into treatment, you will learn that you can experience the pleasurable effects of life without having to have a drink in your hand.

What Happened in the Study

A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry followed 190 young adults in a binge-drinking scenario at three regular intervals for ten years. These participants were regular or heavy social drinkers in their mid-20s when the trial started from 2004-2006. They were brought back for repeated testing of how they responded to alcohol five and ten years later as they reached middle adulthood. In between testing periods, participants were interviewed at near-annual intervals to track their drinking patterns and alcohol use disorder symptoms over time.

The Results of the Study

The study showed that the intensity of the pleasurable effects of alcohol grew with long-term use. They experienced a stronger positive response rather than abusing alcohol to the point of no longer enjoying it. This shows that having a higher sensitivity to the rewarding effects of alcohol in the brain puts people at higher risk of developing an addiction. It was originally thought that participants would need to drink more to get the pleasurable effect, yet this study proved that they got the desired effect early when drinking and that fueled the need for alcohol more. How much a person liked the effects of alcohol increased and did not go down at all.

The Future of These Results

Lead author Andrea King, Ph.D., hopes that these results can improve our understanding of how some people are vulnerable to developing alcohol use disorder while others are social drinkers all their lives. The results can also help develop better treatment options for those with alcohol use disorder and earlier interventions in the future. Knowing someone’s response to alcohol and how it can indicate a person’s future risk for drinking problems can make a difference. By understanding just how bad your drinking habit can get, you can decide to change your drinking on your own or seek help to avoid casual drinking from becoming a serious addiction.

Some people cannot stop drinking despite hating the effects of alcohol. Then others drink more because they like the way alcohol makes them feel. If we know in advance the effects of alcohol, we can prevent alcohol use from developing into addiction. At Alta Loma, we understand the struggles of trying to stop alcohol use. Here in Georgetown, Texas, we can provide you with the tools you need to have a successful addiction recovery like 12-step programs, therapeutic recreational activities, life, and coping skills education, and more. Please call (866) 457-3843 to learn more.