Alcoholism and Oxytocin


Oxytocin is often called the “love hormone” because it is so important to the body’s systems for dealing with rewards, stress, and getting along with other people. It has been studied a lot in the field of addiction because it might be able to help people with alcohol use disorder.

In this article, we’ll talk about the link between alcohol and oxytocin, how alcohol affects the production of oxytocin, and how oxytocin therapy is used to treat alcoholism.

What is Oxytocin?

The brain and pituitary gland makes oxytocin, which is a hormone. It helps with a lot of things in the body, like giving birth, breastfeeding, and bonding.

Oxytocin is released when good things happen with other people, like physical touch, social support, and intimacy. It is thought to make people feel more love, trust, and attachment.

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Where in the Body Does Oxytocin Work?

Oxytocin works on oxytocin receptors, which are found in many parts of the brain and body, such as the reward and stress systems, the heart, the uterus, and the mammary glands.

What does oxytocin do in the body?

Oxytocin does a lot of things in the body, such as:

  • Getting people to connect and bond with each other
  • Controlling how people act socially and sexually
  • Getting rid of worry and stress and building up trust and kindness
  • Cause changes to the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which is the body’s stress response system.

Alcohol and Oxytocin

There are many different ways that alcohol and oxytocin affect each other. Oxytocin levels can go up when you drink alcohol, which may help explain why it makes you feel good and makes you feel closer to other people when you’re drunk.

Also,  excessive alcohol use can stop the body from making oxytocin, which can have bad effects on social behaviour and relationships.

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How Does Alcohol Affect Oxytocin Production?

Studies have shown that drinking alcohol can make both animals and people have more oxytocin in their bodies. But no one knows for sure how alcohol affects oxytocin production. It may depend on the person and how much alcohol they drink.

Alcohol consumption can affect oxytocin levels in the body and may alter the way that oxytocin functions.

One study found that alcohol consumption was associated with increased oxytocin levels in men, but not in women. Another study found that alcohol intake was associated with increased oxytocin release in both men and women, but that the effect was more pronounced in women.

Other research has suggested that alcohol consumption may alter the way that oxytocin affects social behaviour and decision-making. For example, one study found that alcohol intoxication was associated with increased trust and reduced social inhibitions in men, but that these effects were not observed in women.

Overall, the research on the relationship between oxytocin and alcohol consumption is still in the early stages, and more research is needed to fully understand the complex interactions between these two factors.

Is Oxytocin Involved in Addiction?

Oxytocin is a hormone that is made in the brain and pituitary gland. It helps with things like bonding, social behaviour, and controlling stress. There is evidence that the oxytocin system may play a role in addiction because it can change the brain’s reward and stress systems.

Studies have shown that oxytocin can turn on the reward system in the brain and make people feel happier and more satisfied. This could be a factor in the development of addiction, since people may seek out behaviours or substances that raise oxytocin levels in order to get these pleasurable effects.

Also, oxytocin has been shown to make people feel less anxious and stressed, which may make it harder for them to deal with the bad effects of their addiction. This can make it harder to stop the addictive behaviour and may make it more likely that the person will become dependent on the drug or behaviour.

More research is needed to fully understand how oxytocin contributes to the development of addiction and how it can be used to treat addiction. But it’s clear that the oxytocin system is a key area of study in the field of addiction and may be a good place to start looking for treatments.

Is Oxytocin Addictive?

Some studies have shown that oxytocin may be addictive because it can make the brain’s reward system work better and make people feel happier and more satisfied. Oxytocin release in the brain is linked to the feeling of pleasure and reward, and people who engage in pleasurable activities like social bonding, sexual activity, and drug use have been found to have high levels of oxytocin in their bodies.

Some researchers think that oxytocin may contribute to the development of addiction by making people want the addictive substance or behaviour more and by reinforcing how good it makes them feel when they use it.

The link between oxytocin and addiction, on the other hand, is complicated and not fully understood. Some studies have found that oxytocin may be addictive, while others have found that it may stop people from becoming addicted.

In animal models of addiction, for example, oxytocin has been shown to reduce drug cravings and stop drug-seeking behaviours. Also, oxytocin has been shown to make people feel less stressed and anxious, which may make it less likely for people to turn to addictive behaviours to deal with bad feelings.

Oxytocin might be addictive, but we don’t know how or why yet. We need to do more research to find out more about this. Oxytocin is being looked at as a possible treatment for addiction, but more research needs to be done first.

Oxytocin Therapy For Alcohol Use Disorder

Oxytocin therapy is getting more attention as a possible way to treat alcohol use disorder. Oxytocin has been shown to affect the brain’s reward and stress systems, and it may be able to reduce alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Some evidence also suggests that oxytocin may be able to reverse the changes in the brain that happen when someone uses drugs or alcohol for a long time. But the authors point out that there have only been a few clinical studies done on people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, and that more research is needed to fully understand what oxytocin therapy can do.

Can Oxytocin Be Used to Treat Alcohol Addiction?

Alcohol use disorder, which is another name for alcohol addiction, is a serious condition that can hurt a person’s physical and mental health, as well as their relationships and quality of life as a whole. Those who are addicted to alcohol need effective treatment, which may include a mix of medicines, therapy, and support from family and friends.

In recent years, oxytocin has become more popular as a possible treatment. Oxytocin is a hormone that is made in the brain and pituitary gland. It helps with bonding, social behaviour, and controlling stress. Oxytocin therapy is becoming more popular as a possible way to treat alcoholism. Oxytocin has been shown to affect the brain’s reward and stress systems and may be able to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

A review published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology looked at the research on how oxytocin affects alcohol-related behaviours and found that giving oxytocin to both men and women can change how much alcohol they drink. But the authors came to the conclusion that more thorough studies are needed to fully understand how oxytocin affects alcohol tolerance, withdrawal, cravings, anxiety, and social ties.

In another review, which was published in the journal Brain Research, the use of oxytocin therapy to treat alcohol and drug use disorders was talked about. The authors found that oxytocin affects the development of tolerance, sensitization, and withdrawal symptoms and changes how people act when they drink or use drugs. Some evidence also suggests that oxytocin may be able to reverse the changes in the brain that happen when someone uses drugs or alcohol for a long time. But the authors point out that there have only been a few clinical studies done on people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, and that more research is needed to fully understand what oxytocin therapy can do.

Even though there are signs that oxytocin could help people who are addicted to alcohol, more research is needed to fully understand its potential and how it can be used in clinical settings. Oxytocin should never be used on its own to treat alcoholism. It should always be given under the supervision of a doctor.

Where To Find Help

If you or someone you care about is having trouble with alcoholism, it’s important to get professional help. There are a lot of support services you can access to help you on your way to recovery, such as:

  • Talking to a doctor or therapist 
  • Alcoholics Anonymous and other peer support groups
  • Signing up for an out-patient rehab programme or going to a residential treatment centre
  • Seeking individual or family therapy to deal with the problems that led to the addiction.

Remember that recovery is a journey, and it’s important to take things one day at a time. With the right help and treatment, it is possible to stop drinking and start living a healthier, alcohol-free life.

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this page are for informational purposes only and are not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional.

References

  1. Alcohol and oxytocin: Scrutinizing the relationship. Neuropsychopharmacology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2021.06.009
  2. The Role of Oxytocin in Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Brain Research. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006899320301177?via%3Dihub 
  3. Barriers and Breakthroughs in Targeting the Oxytocin System to Treat Alcohol Use Disorder. Frontiers in Psychiatry https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2022.842609/full 
  4. Intranasal Oxytocin for Stimulant Use Disorder Among Male Veterans Enrolled in an Opioid Treatment Program: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Frontiers in Psychiatry. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.804997/full 
  5. Breaking the loop: oxytocin as a potential treatment for drug addiction. Hormones and Behaviour. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2011.12.001 

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