You may be familiar with the hormone oxytocin, often referred to as “the love hormone” due to its production during acts of intimacy, such as looking into another person’s eyes, holding hands, and during periods of sexual intimacy. Oxytocin also interacts with the reward system of the brain in a way that is similar to drugs that produce euphoria and cravings. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looked at the interaction of alcohol with oxytocin in rats, finding that at high levels, the oxytocin appeared to provide a sobering effect, counteracting the outward effects of the alcohol.

What does this mean? While further research is likely to be conducted in this area, it could mean that acts we often associate with love might prevent impaired coordination that comes with drunkenness. Oxytocin does not, however, lower blood alcohol levels– meaning that an individual who consumes alcohol might seem less impaired though their BAC is still the same.

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