Whenever you read about the mechanics of drug addiction, you have most likely come across a section that talks about dopamine. At the root of addiction, all people suffering from this sickness are drawn (instinctively, it seems) to the substances that are slowly killing them due to the pleasure response from the brain. Once they take cocaine, opioids, or any manner of addictive substances, addicts’ brains light up like Christmas trees as neurotransmitters flow through their gray matter. However, as it turns out, this process might be more intricate than scientists originally perceived. Let’s take a closer look at the mystery of the brain’s “pleasure response.”
Just a Teacher
Initially, scientists labeled dopamine as the connecting line between drugs and addiction. After addicts consume their poison of choice, these substances trigger the release of this neurotransmitter, which ultimately kickstarts a feeling of pleasure and happiness. In many ways, dopamine does serve as the reward chemical, but, recently, scientists have taken a different approach.
At this point, researchers have determined that dopamine is a “teaching chemical,” not a trigger.
To simplify this statement, let’s view the brain as if it was a complex machine made out of gears, wires, and circuits. After a person consumes something delicious (or addictive, in this case), a circuit releases the neurochemical dopamine as part of a pleasurable response. As a result, our supercomputer brain encodes this memory and trains the body to react positively to a drug.
In other words, dopamine trains the brain to love an addictive substance.
As a result, the brain begins to associate pleasure with substances that cause a profound reaction. For example, people who use a lot of drugs and, therefore, experience many dopamine rushes, will feel the anticipation of pleasure when they visit places or see people that they associate with that drug. Dopamine merely serves as the catalyst, not the cause.
Seeking Treatment for Drug Addiction or Alcoholism
Alcoholism and drug addiction are dangerous sicknesses that should never be taken lightly. All it takes to fall off the wagon and become sick is to take that first sniff, snort, injection, or shot before you are rolling downhill into insanity. Still, you can always push the train back up, but it will be a difficult hike. However, with the right mixture of perseverance and determination, you can easily get back on track and be happy once more.
Are you suffering from a severe case of alcoholism or drug addiction? Do you have a friend or a loved one who is coping with the same illness? In both cases, get in touch us at with Asana Recovery today. Our professional team of counselors and healthcare experts will help you endure the painful process of drug withdrawal and detox and guide you along the rocky road of rehabilitation. Soon enough, you will experience a faster and much more efficient recovery.
If you are seeking more information about our residential treatment or supervised detoxification/withdrawal programs or enroll in one of these programs today, we are ready and waiting to speak with you at your leisure and your disclosure. Call Asana now at (949) 438-4504 to learn how you can overcome your mental illness and take an extra step toward becoming a healthier person.