Why does drinking alcohol have such profound effects on thought, mood, and behaviour? Why does alcohol dependence develop and persist in some people and not in others?
Neuroscience is starting to address those questions and scientists are better understanding how alcohol changes the brain. The brain is made up of a delicate balance of chemicals and adding alcohol the brain starts to adapt to those changes, affecting behaviour.
When the brain is exposed to alcohol it may become tolerant and need more alcohol. When someone continues to drink heavily this can lead to dependence. Chronic exposure to high doses of alcohol produces counter adaptive neural changes that affect motivation and drive subsequent alcohol-seeking behaviour.