We’ve all got those friends who find it hard it stop when it comes to booze.
While some people are more than happy to just have one glass of wine over dinner, other people have to order the bottle. And then another.
A new study has discovered there’s a scientific reason why some of us drink compulsively when presented with alcohol – and why some of us find it easier to stop after a couple. It comes down to our drinking personality type.
Neuroscientists at Vanderbilt University and The Salk Institute observed the brains of mice after they had been exposed to alcohol, and were able to predict which of the mice would drink compulsively after identifying three distinct drinking personalities: light, heavy and compulsive bingers.
According to the study, a binge drinker is someone who continues to drink ‘despite it resulting in a negative outcome’.
Researchers discovered there was a specific circuit in the brain that either simulated or diminished ‘punishment signals’ while drinking.
The mice with the binge drinking personality, received fewer punishment signals from their brain circuit when they drank alcohol, which meant they were more likely to develop binging tendencies.
Mice whose brains simulated punishment, were less likely to develop compulsive behaviour later on.
‘This circuit serves as both a biomarker for the development of compulsive drinking and a driver of its expression,’ reads the study abstract.
‘It can bidirectionally control compulsive behavior by mitigating or mimicking punishment signals.’
From these findings, researchers were able to accurately predict the mice’s drinking habits from the very start.
‘We were actually able to predict which subjects would become compulsive based on neural activity during the very first time they drank,’ explains study author and assistant pharmacology professor, Dr Cody Siciliano.
The study explains that almost a third of adults drink compulsively when presented with alcohol. However, researchers hope their findings could shed light on new ways to tackle alcohol addiction in the future.
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