Among that which helps us feel we belong, are rituals that quench our thirst for connection –– rituals that have a storied place in history. Congregating for entertainment, gathering around a table to break bread, and raising a glass together are among the few most notable. The sensations food, drink and entertainment bring to people are described as better when shared. When we find commonality with others, we develop kinship, and a sense of belonging.
We should wonder then, why a substance largely consumed in social settings for centuries, works biologically against our inherent social desires. Alcohol, also know as ethanol, is a flammable liquid naturally produced by fermenting sugars and yeasts or via petrochemical processes such as ethylene hydration. When consumed, especially in large doses, has known adversarial reactions to the brain and other organs of the body. In the first phase of intoxication, it has a profound effect on the complex structures of the brain, blocking chemical signals between brain cells, leading to impulsive behaviour, slurred speech, slowed reflexes and most notably poor memory.
It also releases a shot of dopamine, giving people a stimulating feel-good sensation. But as the affect quickly wears off, the drinking continues in a chase for that next dopamine hit, only to be met with more depressant effects. The more alcohol that enters the system, the greater the impaired judgement, vision, and alertness, slowed reaction time and concentration and, ultimately, dulled senses.
While we've romanticized the "nights we can't remember with the people we can't forget", a blend of alcohol and alcohol-free beverages may be the solve to both relish in the fun, and remember it.