Brain chemistry may explain why men are more likely to become alcoholicsS

Men are up to twice as likely to become alcoholics than women, and a new study indicates that this propensity may be tied to dopamine production. Researchers found that men's brains are hardwired to release more dopamine when consuming booze.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that's released when the human body partakes in activities like sex and drugs; it's affiliated with conditioning the brain to continually seek pleasurable activities. In the study (which will be published in the journal Biological Psychiatry), subjects consumed alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and their dopamine output was measured using positron emission tomography imaging after the consumption of each drink.

Says study co-author Dr. Nina Urban, "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."

[NCBI via Elsevier]