New book links alcohol violence to brain inflammation
Alcohol seems to have become so synonymous with the college experience that simply thinking about the latter can conjure images of frat parties, empty red Solo cups strewn on the floor, and drunken students engaging in wild party antics. However, as much as it may be known to be a social catalyst and a kind of liquid courage, heavy consumption of alcohol could also lead to behaviors and actions which could be detrimental to a person's social life.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, four out of five college students drink alcohol, and 50 percent of students who consume alcohol engage in binge drinking.
The organization also attributes a large number of fights, sexual assaults and health issues that occur in college due to the heavy alcohol consumption.
So why does alcohol cause people to engage in violent and impulsive behaviors?
William Tappan, the author of the book “Mean Drunk, Anger, Hostility and Alcohol,” drew a link between alcohol consumption and brain chemistry.
“Proinflammatory cytokines are released by alcohol consumption, which affects the medial hypothalamus and the immune system,” he said.
Tappan said that cytokines are proteins that provoke an immune response from the human body and alter brain chemistry, which in turn affects behavior. Certain people are genetically predisposed to be more susceptible to the influence of alcohol.
Alcohol suppresses the release of the “excitatory” neurotransmitter glutamate, which results in the deceleration of the brain's neural transmission rate, and increases the effects of the “inhibitory” neurotransmitter, GABA, sedating the body's nervous system and leading to a decrease in heart and respiration rate, according to a Forbes article.
It is also reported that alcohol increases the production of dopamine in the brain, which gives people a euphoric feeling. As a result, people drink more because of the initial good feeling, but will later become depressed after the euphoria wears off.
The chase of that initial dopamine rush is the main cause of a person's addiction to alcohol.
Tappan said that these findings do not absolve people from the responsibility of their conduct under the influence of alcohol because the consumption of the substance is a choice.