Table 2

 Alcohol and neurotransmitters

Dopamine: alcohol increases dopamine use in the nucleus accumbens, mediating its pleasurable effects via the common reward pathway of the mesolimbic system
Noradrenaline: alcohol release of noradrenaline (norepinephrine) contributes to the enlivening and activating “party” effects of alcohol
Endogenous opioids: Alcohol’s analgesic, pleasure, and stress reducing functions are opioid related
GABA: Alcohol can potentiate GABA (γ aminobutyric acid) activity through certain subunits of the GABA A receptor. This accounts for alcohol’s anxiolytic and ataxic actions, and partially for amnesia and sedation.
Glutamate: Alcohol acts to block the excitatory NMDA (N-methyl-d-aspartate) receptor, opposing glutamate causing amnesia and other cerebral depressant effects
Serotonin: Alcohol’s stimulation of 5HT3 (5-hydroxytryptamine 3) provides the nausea associated with alcohol use. Serotonin may also be linked to the pleasurable effects of alcohol and differing brain serotonin levels may distinguish between anxious and aggressive alcohol users