Washington: Drinking alcohol releases endorphins in areas of the brain that produce feelings of euphoria.
Endorphins are compounds produced naturally in the brain, triggered by exercise, consumption of spicy food, love and orgasm, producing a sense of well being.
"This is something that we`ve speculated about for 30 years, based on animal studies, but haven`t observed in humans until now," said Jennifer Mitchell, adjunct professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco.
"It provides the first direct evidence of how alcohol makes people feel good," added Mitchell.
The discovery of the precise locations in the brain where endorphins are released provides a possible target for the development of more effective drugs for the treatment of alcohol abuse, said senior author Howard L. Fields, professor of neurology at California.
The researchers used positron emission tomography, or PET imaging, to observe the immediate effects of alcohol in the brains of a group of heavy drinkers and and "control" subjects who were not heavy drinkers.
In all of the subjects, alcohol intake led to a release of endorphins. And, in all of the subjects, the more endorphins released in the nucleus accumbens, the greater were the feelings of pleasure reported by each drinker.