Lonely Planet Writer

Sobering up may be down to the ‘love’ hormone

It means you still can’t drive but researchers believe they have come up with a new way to sober people up who have had too much to drink. A new study has found that Oxytocin – the ‘love’ hormone – could be at the centre of a development which reduces the effects of alcohol consumption.

Glasses of beer
Glasses of beer Image by Simon Cocks / CC BY 2.0

In trials, Oxytocin was administered to rats by scientists at the University of Sydney and University of Regensburg in Germany. The results showed a startling sobering effect on those animals who had been given alcohol, the Daily Mail reports.

According to lead author Michael Bowen from the University of Sydney, the reseachers then gave the animals the equivalent of a sobriety test. Those rats with the oxytocin passed easily but those who had been given alcohol without oxytocin were seriously impaired, he said. Dr Bowen said the hormone prevented the alcohol from entering into the areas of the brain which trigger drunken behaviour.

Researchers are now looking to see how it might affect humans. Dr Bowen warned that it did not mean that people with oxytocin in their systems could drink and drive, explaining that it won’t actually change the blood alcohol level. A knock-on from their work could led to the development of new oxytocin-based treatments for alcohol addiction.