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Medical What's responsible if you feel no reward from alcohol, coffee, ?

  1. Sep 3, 2008 #1
    I was wondering where the addictive effect from alcohol and coffee comes from in the brain?

    I personally do not feel any "positive" effect what so ever from alcohol (cheer up, lose inhibitions, more talkative, ...) or coffee (stimulating). There are "consumption unrelated" things that do that instead.

    As I therefore hardly drink alcohol (why spend money?) I only get dizzy and get a head ache quite easily. Coffee or tea have absolutely no "awakening" or stimulating effect on me. Coffee might give a little head ache though (dehydration?).

    Can there be individual hormone levels in the brain? What would be the case for me?

    Just curious... :-)
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 3, 2008 #2


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    First of all, alcohol is not a stimulant, it's a depressant, so you shouldn't expect to "cheer up" from alcohol consumption. The dizziness it makes you feel IS one of the effects of alcohol (and if you did lose inhibitions then, you probably wouldn't have the awareness to realize it; you might have to rely on others reporting your behavior back to you if you do). Sleepiness is another effect of alcohol.

    As for caffeine, dose matters. Some people don't even associate the effects of caffeine with its consumption, because they don't notice until many hours after that last cup of coffee that they are having a hard time sleeping at night. It doesn't always keep you alert at the time of consumption, but can make it harder to sleep several hours later instead.

    Parts of the brain involved in addiction are known as the limbic system...it's not just one area, but a collection of areas that all communicate with one another.

    Here is a site from NIDA with a "simple" explanation (it's written for a teenaged audience). This might help you get started. I
    http://teens.drugabuse.gov/facts/facts_brain1.asp [Broken]

    f it's too simplified, just say so and I can help you with more advanced information (I don't want to immediately go over your head if you have only a little biology background, but don't want to insult you with something too simpliflied if you do have more biology background.)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  4. Sep 4, 2008 #3
    Yet there seem to be effects I don't experience. Perception is slowed down, but I'm sure decision making and most mental abilities is completely unaffected.

    I had coffees late at night and no noticeable change. I tend to go late to bed either way. I thought something in the brain might respond weaker or stronger then.

    I cannot imagine how to enjoy wine and coffee doesn't give me much either. I guess any small amount of alcohol in a drink tastes to me the same as it would to a child trying alcohol for the first time. The only difference is that for most children it apparently changes at one point.

    I don't have much background, but I can look up what different terms mean. I just don't know the complete picture to "diagnose" correctly.
    A read explanations why some animals bond more or less depending on hormone levels. I read stories that some people are genetically more susceptible to addictions. I read stories that people experience brain changes after first smoking drugs and the second time only they get effects.
    So I thought maybe it is possible to identify a cause for resistance to the "favourable" effects of alcohol (the negative are strong just because I hardly drink ... now at least).

    I'd like to know the culprit and then I read up about it :smile:
  5. Sep 6, 2008 #4


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    Oh, now I think I understand better what you're asking. You're asking why it doesn't affect you or you don't become addicted like others?

    Not everyone experiences all the same set of effects of any substance. It's a good question why that is, but not one with an easy answer. For example, if I drink too much alcohol, I just want to go to sleep, but others drink too much alcohol and are up dancing on tables. Some of it could be chalked up to different metabolisms...different body sizes, different liver functions for metabolizing the substance. Some of it may be related to the point I mentioned above about multiple brain sites being involved in the experience, so not all may be similarly affected in everyone. There aren't any clear answers on this yet.

    As for why one person can have a single drink or single exposure to a drug and become addicted, while someone else can have a drink a day or drink a week their whole life and never develop an addiction, and others fall into a range in between where if they pass some threshold for numbers of exposures or frequency of drinking, they eventually become addicted, that's the million dollar question of research on drug and alcohol abuse. If researchers understood what makes those people who never become addicted so resistant to that, they might be able to use that knowledge to help treat or prevent addiction in others. Again, there is not yet an answer to that question. It's certainly a good question though.
  6. Sep 6, 2008 #5
    Yes. Or I could also describe it this way: Why do I have to say sometimes "No mate, this party really sucks and no amount of alcohol can ever change that for me" :)

    That would be for general effectiveness. I get some headache from a sip of wine though. Also my taste receptor don't like alcohol I guess. Working as a waiter I was once invited for a beer and found it absolutely impossible to drink it - I tried replacing it with apple juice secretly.

    Oh OK. I thought it could be possible to say which one it is and then assume that this center behaves similarly in other situations. I can't image being addicted to just one thing, but I can imagine very well being addicted to doing just anything that might cheer you up.
  7. Sep 6, 2008 #6


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    Well, that's a clear sign that your decision making and mental abilities are affected!
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