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Why men are more addicted to alcohol

health-and-fitness Updated: Nov 03, 2010 00:53 IST

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Have you always wondered, why your boyfriend, husband, father, male acquaintances or friends get hooked to that glass of wine, beer and whiskey? Why they feel unable to resist the urge to take a sip or two from a glass of alcohol lying in front of him? Why they become alcoholic and have more trouble putting the habit behind them? Well, all these questions have been answered as scientists believe they know why men are twice as likely as women to become alcoholics.

Pleasure rush
Scientists have found that consuming beer and wine on a night-out gave men a far greater ‘pleasure rush’ than women. Researchers from Columbia and Yale universities in the United States (US) studied the underlying biology of how drinking affects the brain. The team compared a group of male and female college-age social drinkers in a lab test of alcohol consumption, reports the Daily Mail.

Men sipping whiskeyAfter consuming an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink, each participant underwent a specialised positron emission tomography (PET) scan, an imaging technique that can measure the amount of alcohol-induced dopamine release.

Know the reason
Dopamine has pleasurable effects when it is released by rewarding experiences, such as sex or drugs. Despite similar consumption of alcohol, the men had greater dopamine release than women, according to the journal Biological Psychiatry.

This increase was found in the ventral striatum, a brain area strongly linked with pleasure, reinforcement and addiction formation.

Study co-author Nina Urban from Columbia University said, “In men, increased dopamine release also had a stronger association with subjective positive effects of alcohol intoxication.”

“This may contribute to the initial reinforcing properties of alcohol and the risk for habit formation.”