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What Triggers Alcohol Dependence?

by James Meacham, MD | Mar 16, 2021

Alcohol dependence develops when you drink so much that your brain starts relying on alcohol to produce pleasurable chemicals. This can make you want to drink more often, even if there are negative consequences. At first, alcohol can cause the brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy. Over time, chronic drinking depletes the amount of dopamine in the brain, making the pleasurable feelings associated with alcohol fade. But at this stage, alcohol has taken over your routine and you no longer drink for pleasure. You are aware of the harmful effects, but you have lost control over your alcohol consumption.

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