Got this in an addiction-based newsletter last week:
Alcohol Dulls Brain 'Alarm' That Monitors Mistakes, Study FindsAmazing research is going on in lots of places about addiction, alcohol, substance use and abuse. Alcohol is often seen as a "social lubricant" but perhaps the real story is that it reduces how much we care about making the mistakes we would be otherwise embarrassed by. It is also the way that alcohol - or perhaps more to the point the "ism" of the disease of alcoholism and addiction- increases in control.
ScienceDaily (Sep. 2, 2011) - Most people have witnessed otherwise intelligent people doing embarrassing or stupid things when they are intoxicated, but what specifically happens in the brain to cause such drunken actions? A new study testing alcohol's effects on brain activity finds that alcohol dulls the brain "signal" that warns people when they are making a mistake, ultimately reducing self control.
"When people make mistakes, activity in a part of the brain responsible for monitoring behavior increases, essentially sending an alarm signal to other parts of the brain indicating that something went wrong," said Bruce Bartholow, associate professor of psychology in the University of Missouri College of Arts and Science. "Our study isn't the first to show that alcohol reduces this alarm signal, but contrary to previous studies, our study shows that alcohol doesn't reduce your awareness of mistakes -- it reduces how much you care about making those mistakes." [Emphasis added]
See the full article at: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110901135030.htm
We truly believe that we are going to have "just one." This time will be different. But for some people for whom alcohol turns off the mistake-caring switch, that first drink is all it takes. The active alcoholic (or one who is developing alcohol abuse disorder) will take the first drink and then not care what's going to happen next. They just take the next- and then the next- and then.....
There is no doubt that as we continue to do research we will discover that the "ism" is real. It is as physical a disease as any other we know of.