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Sugar a Factor in Drinking and Loss of Inhibitions?

By anaesthetica in Science
Thu Jun 18, 2009 at 08:55:05 PM EST
Tags: glucose, alcohol, drinking, inhibitions, willpower, science (all tags)
Science

The chemical effects of alcohol on inhibitions are not particularly well understood by scientists studying the short-term effects of drinking on social behavior.

There is some evidence that the loss of inhibitions is psychological: patients given placebo drinks often demonstrate a low or moderate drop in inhibitions that would otherwise be consistent with a low or moderate dose of an alcoholic drink. In many societies, drinking and the appearance of being drunk allows individuals to 'accidentally' break otherwise stifling social norms in a somewhat socially acceptable way--being drunk is a readymade excuse for behavior that one wishes to engages in prior to having consumed alcohol.

However, it is likely that there is a significant chemical element to the loss of inhibitions. The psychological effect demonstrated in placebo cases may simply be a learned behavior based on the experience of the chemical effect and the socially shared knowledge of this effect.

Some hypothesize that alcohol's effect on the GABA and dopamine neurotransmitters affects the frontal lobes, an area of the brain responsible for impulse control.

However, two new studies may shed light on another chemical process affecting an individual's willpower: the substitution of the sugar from alcohol for glucose.


Brain Food

Live Science has reported ("How Alcohol Changes the Brain ... Quickly") on a study appearing in the popular Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, a publication that routinely gives Reader's Digest a run for its money in circulation numbers.

Previously consigned to studying drunken animals only, the scientists studied humans drinking alcohol (through straws) while being scanned in an MRI machine. At a blood alcohol level of 0.05-0.06%, brain cells had abandoned their normal energy source, glucose, and instead began to consume the sugar produced by the breakdown of alcohol.

"Our study provides evidence for alternative energy utilization upon alcohol ingestion," said researcher Armin Biller at Heidelberg University Hospital. "The brain uses an alcohol breakdown product instead of glucose for energy demands."

The focus of their study is on the long-term impact of drinking on the composition of cell membranes, which may play a role in the development of alcoholism. They did not study the role of "alternative energy utilization" on inhibitions.

Suck out my motherfucking brains, my brains (sugar!)

However, another recent study ("The Physiology of Willpower: Linking Blood Glucose to Self-Control") found in the Personality and Social Psychology Review, a household name if there ever was one, argues that:

Self-control relies on some sort of limited energy source... Blood glucose is one important part of the energy source of self-control. Acts of self-control deplete relatively large amounts of glucose. Self-control failures are more likely when glucose is low or cannot be mobilized effectively to the brain.

Given that the brain ceases to consume glucose as its principal energy course, and instead relies on sugars found as a byproduct of the breakdown of alcohol, we might speculate that this is one chemical factor in the loss of inhibitions that we observe in drinkers.

Numerous self-control behaviors fit this pattern, including controlling attention, regulating emotions, quitting smoking, coping with stress, resisting impulsivity, and refraining from criminal and aggressive behavior.

All of these symptoms of lack of willpower are found commonly among drinkers, habitual or not.

Discussion

As a teetotaler and a possessor of a rather large sweet tooth, I find the logic of this connection compelling. Because the link between sugary drinks and willpower is well demonstrated, the effect of alcohol in replacing glucose as the brain's energy source may be a significant factor in the loss of inhibitions.

Perhaps the greater resistance of alcohol-imbibing women to putting out (as compared to will-lay-anything-with-a-pulse men) can be traced back to the higher levels of sugar in girlie drinks. A double blind study in which four groups are tested could shed light on strategies to increase the quotient of women putting out after a night out in the bars:

  1. a group of women consuming placebo sugary drinks;
  2. a group of women consuming placebo sugar-substitute drinks;
  3. a group of women consuming alcoholic sugary drinks; and,
  4. a group of women consuming alcoholic sugar-substitute drinks.

This is an exciting time for science, and much work remains to be done. However, the proposed link between glucose substitution in the brain and loss of inhibitions is a promising avenue for further research. Potentially, replacement of sugar in bar drinks with sugar substitute (marketed to women as a 'diet' option) will further the agenda of men everywhere seeking to get laid by drunk women.

NB: Please do remember, however, that intoxicated women cannot legally give consent to sexual activity. But, since there can be no consent within the patriarchy, sober and drunk sex are both morally equivalent acts of rape.

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Related Links
o alcohol's effect on the GABA and dopamine neurotransmitters affects the frontal lobes
o How Alcohol Changes the Brain ... Quickly
o sugar!
o The Physiology of Willpower: Linking Blood Glucose to Self-Control
o link between sugary drinks and willpower is well demonstrated
o no consent within the patriarchy
o Also by anaesthetica


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Sugar a Factor in Drinking and Loss of Inhibitions? | 12 comments (8 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
I like the postscript: (2.62 / 8) (#4)
by Wen Jian on Thu Jun 18, 2009 at 04:01:42 PM EST

In the interests of gaining equality, feminists have on behalf of their sisters, volunteered to reduce the number of circumstances where they can be considered to be able to take adult responsibility for decisions that they have made.

You go girls!
It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty

This is key to any victimhood narrative (3.00 / 5) (#6)
by anaesthetica on Thu Jun 18, 2009 at 04:40:57 PM EST

If you are a victim, you are by definition not responsible for the evil that has befallen you. If you want to construct a liberation political theory, an emancipatory philosophy, you must first inoculate against any possibilities of complicity in your own circumstances. The goal of this particular brand of feminism is not equality but escape.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
Doesn't work (3.00 / 5) (#8)
by schlouse on Fri Jun 19, 2009 at 04:32:03 AM EST

I think most have already caught on to this sleight of hand, hence the huge loss of traction that "this particular brand of feminism" has suffered over the last decade.

[ Parent ]
If there are still any followers of it remaining, (3.00 / 4) (#11)
by it certainly is on Fri Jun 19, 2009 at 01:37:32 PM EST

then there has not been a sufficient loss of traction.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

This explains a lot. (2.50 / 2) (#7)
by fn0rd on Thu Jun 18, 2009 at 08:14:45 PM EST

When I go to the bar, I tend to talk to the chick drinking straight bourbon before the one with the Melonball. Now I know why!

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad

what's rape? (none / 1) (#9)
by GhostOfTiber on Fri Jun 19, 2009 at 11:08:49 AM EST


[Nimey's] wife's ass is my cocksheath. - undermyne

That's one of the best parts about that rant (3.00 / 4) (#10)
by anaesthetica on Fri Jun 19, 2009 at 12:19:23 PM EST

The patriarchy blamer writes:

This would allow women to define rape. Rape, as you know, is currently defined by men. Talk about a conflict of interest.

I suspect that if it were really true that men defined rape, then there would be no definition nor concept of rape to begin with.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
a spoonful of sugar (3.00 / 2) (#12)
by donnalee on Sun Jun 21, 2009 at 02:00:54 AM EST

makes the medicine go down

---
Guess I'll be adding this to tomorrow's comment dump!
Sugar a Factor in Drinking and Loss of Inhibitions? | 12 comments (8 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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