Silhouette of man drinking alcohol, close up

Alcohol activates areas of the brain associated with compulsive behaviour – research finds

New research suggests that heavy drinkers are willing to tolerate painful electric shocks in return for alcohol.

Those suffering from alcohol use disorder are defined as men who drink more than 20 boozy beverages a week.

And women over 10, put up with the discomfort if it resulted in them being given a drink of their choice, a US study found.

The prospect of alcohol also activates areas of the brain associated with compulsive behaviours in heavy drinkers, the research adds.

 Alcohol use disorder affects approximately 16 million people in the US.

Excessive alcohol intake is associated with conditions such as;

Liver disease, brain damage, and cancer of the mouth.


Researchers from the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, analysed 19 heavy drinkers who were not seeking treatment for alcohol use disorder.

The participants could have up to four alcoholic drinks of their choice in exchange for an electric shock to their wrists.

Can you imagine, they self selected the shock intensity at a level that was ‘painful and comfortable, but not extremely painful’.

Demi Lovato is awake after reportedly being rushed to the hospital for suspected overdose


The experiment was repeated in 23 light drinkers; defined as less than 15 alcoholic beverages a week in men and under 10 in women.


Results revealed, light drinkers are significantly less likely to tolerate pain in exchange for booze.

According to Daily Mail, it’s believed their findings demonstrate heavy drinkers take risks if it means they get their fix.

Women from regions where alcohol consumption is high have greater iron levels in their bodies and are more likely to die from heart conditions, a study by Anglia Ruskin University found.

As a result, alcohol may also suppress the hormone that prevents iron from accumulating.

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