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Unusual Triggers for Alcoholism

Binge drinking and alcohol addiction may be triggered by some very unusual influences, studies have found. Not only can alcohol affect the brain to the point that it becomes a trigger, but even more unusual influences may increase the likelihood of binge drinking. Loud music, commercialization and our economy have all been linked to increases in the numbers of binge drinking. All four triggers are outlined below.

Researchers have known for a long time that some people are more prone to alcoholism than others due to the structures of their brain activity, but scientists have recently discovered an unusual link. Alcoholism actually changes the brain’s structure over time, making it easier to derive pleasure from drinking alcohol.

Scientists at the University of California discovered that alcoholics are more likely to experience feelings of pleasure while drinking than non-alcoholics. To prove their hypothesis, the researchers completed positron emission topography (PET) scans to determine how the action centers in the brain respond to alcohol in a group of 13 alcoholics and 12 non-alcoholics.

In the alcoholics, the center of the brain that controls feelings of pleasure was more active than in the non-alcoholics. Because the pleasure center “lit up” on the PET scan in the alcoholics and they reported increased feelings of pleasure from the alcohol, the alcoholics were more likely to continue drinking in large amounts and more likely to lead to alcohol addiction.

Although endorphins in the brain may be one of the leading causes for the severe alcohol addiction and binge drinking that could lead to the necessity of attending a treatment program like Vista Taos in New Mexico, another unusual source is also a trigger.

Loud music can be a significant trigger in the amount of alcohol consumed, which may help shed some light on why many bars play music so loud. Researchers in France studied 40 participants to determine how music volume affected their drinking. Over the course of three nights, the participants were tracked through varying levels of music volume, and it was discovered that loud music made the participants drink more quickly; one drink was finished in 15 minutes at lower music volume as compared to 12 minutes at higher volume. Since drinks were finished more quickly, the total amount of alcohol consumed also increased.

Alcohol addiction and binge drinking, both of which can lead to the necessity of a treatment program, were also influenced by commercialization. Researchers studied the effects of media on 80 men to find that they drank more when commercials or movies that showcased alcohol were shown.

 To study this, the researchers set groups of the participants up in movie theaters where both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages were available. The men who watched movies or commercials that showcased alcohol or activities that involved alcohol were more likely to drink alcoholic beverages. The alcohol showcase groups drank on average 1.5 more bottles of alcohol than the groups shown movies or commercials where alcohol played a lesser role.

Finally, there is one more thing that the economy can be blamed for: increased binge drinking and alcohol addiction. A four year study of 40,000 participants completed by researchers at the University of Miami has discovered a link between drinking and unemployment rates. As the state’s rate of unemployment increased, drinking and alcohol abuse increased as well, by a rather large margin. Researchers state that for every one point increase in Florida’s unemployment rate, Floridians were 17 percent more likely to suffer from alcohol addiction and addictive behaviors.

Overall, discovering that the brain, loud music, the media, and the economy can lead to binge drinking is actually a step in the right direction. As researchers discover more about the influences that may trigger alcoholism, they can share the knowledge with alcohol treatment centers so that current and future treatment center participants may be more aware of triggers. Alcohol treatment centers can also work on ways for patients to battle or avoid the triggers that could contribute to the unfortunate yet common backslides into alcoholism at a later date.

However, for now, the four unusual triggers for alcoholism and binge drinking can be seen as opportunities; for those who discover an alcohol addiction because they identify with these four triggers, they may check into an alcohol treatment program. Treatment program centers often work on the principles of treating patients with care and respect and treating underlying issues and triggers that may contribute to alcoholism. Oftentimes, a treatment program can save lives and help those addicted to alcohol get back on track to leading more meaningful and productive lives.

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COVID-19 update: The health and safety of our clients at Vista Taos Renewal Center continues to be our highest priority. Due to the national rise in cases of COVID-19, all potential clients entering the Vista Taos program shall be tested for the virus and must receive their results prior to admission. Vista Taos continues to work closely with the New Mexico Department of Health, adhering to the highest standards of care for our clients, and will provide subsequent testing after admission as needed. For assistance in finding the most efficient testing sites, please contact our Director of Community Relations, Jeremy Lihte, at (575) 425-1913
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