We know different drugs make us experience the world around us in very different ways — and their after-effects are often nowhere near as pleasant as the immediate results they produce. Alcohol, which was recently ranked one of the five most addictive substances on the planet by two teams of addiction experts, can be especially dangerous when consumed in excess.
Like other substances, alcohol achieves its effects by messing with our brain chemistry.
Because it’s a depressant, booze makes us feel sluggish by amping up the activity of special chemical messengers that slow things down in our bodies. But alcohol also boosts the levels of another messenger — the infamous feel-good chemical dopamine. This increase happens in our brain’s reward center, which is responsible for things like desire and positive reinforcement, so we end up feeling better — at least temporarily.