Alcohol may not seem to the average person to be an addictive, mood-altering drug, but there’s no debate that is what it is. Just like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines do, drinking alcohol causes the brain to release unnaturally large amounts of the pleasure-causing chemical dopamine. This dopamine release is the mechanism around which all drug addiction is based, as the brain ceases natural dopamine production in reaction to the drug’s effect. When that happens, the brain begins to need to the drug in order to feel pleasure at all. Alcoholics aren’t drinking because they are choosing to—they’re drinking because doing otherwise makes them miserable.