Dopamine is an essential, naturally occurring brain chemical. It is very important for survival and is connected to multiple functions and behaviors. Disruption to the dopamine system is the underlying cause of several diseases/diseases such as: ADHD, Depression, Parkinson’s Disease, Psychosis, Schizophrenia, Dementia, and Addiction.
There are 7 other neurochemicals closely associated with addiction, but none as central as DOPAMINE! You see this chemical is designed to keep us motivated and focused to go after things that would be “good for survival,” such as (eating, sex, completing a goal, finding a mate, etc…)
A good metaphor for understanding dopamine’s role in addiction is this….
Basically when someone uses drugs/alcohol, it is like they “hot-wired the car.” It boils down to the fact that drugs and alcohol are actually poisonous to our brains, but the chemicals in them trigger dopamine to be released. This is like the car starting without the keys. The problem is our brains react to these outside chemicals as if they were actually necessary for survival. The car drives like “normal,” but the keys are not there.
THIS MEANS IT IS A VERY STRONG MOTIVATING CHEMICAL!
You see dopamine is a DESIRE chemical. When it is released we start thinking a lot (sometimes obsessing) about getting whatever the brain is perceiving as necessary for happiness, health, and survival.
In addition to making us obsessed with getting this thing we “desire,” dopamine improves the brain’s focus and concentration. This means… we get REALLY good at figuring out HOW TO GET THE DESIRED THING!
This survival instinct is stronger than logical thinking which is why addicts continue to use despite consequences.
Dopamine is also released in connection to certain behaviors which can lead to what we call a “Process Addiction.” These are addictions like shopping, gambling, sex, video games, and work.
If you’re interested in learning more about dopamine and the many other neurochemicals associated with addiction, check out my online course Causes and Cures of Addiction.
This course is designed to present the brain science behind addiction and recovery in one package.
You’ll learn why people get addicted, how to prevent it, and how to tackle an already ongoing addiction from the perspective of the involved brain chemistry.
Those directly suffering from addiction as well as family members and loved ones of addicts equally benefit from this course.
Whether you’re thinking about making a change or 10 years sober, you’ll find the course to be full of useful information in the struggle with addiction and substance abuse!