Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, one of the brain’s many messengers. A neurotransmitter is a chemical that delivers nerve impulses and electrical signals across the gaps between nerve cells. When it comes to dopamine in addiction, the relationship is extremely complicated.
Dopamine and the Brain
The main function of dopamine is generating motivation through behavior and cognition. A dopamine increase effects our mood, attention, memory, and learning processing in pleasurable ways. At the center of the brain lies a “reward center” known as the mesolimbic pathway, and this is the area most sensitive to dopamine. The mesolimbic pathway is a neurological system that runs of feelings of reward and desire.
Typically, this is helpful, because the pleasurable behaviors—eating, mating, exercising—and productive and healthy. However, the brain system cannot tell the difference between truly valuable actions and fruitless, false euphoria we get from illicit drugs. When we take cocaine or methamphetamine, there is no true reward, no real reason to come back for more, but we still feel it—and to a tremendous degree.
Dopamine in Addiction
Based on a study they conducted with rates, the University of Michigan found that some people brain’s are more active than others in this regard. Say several people pass by a sign that reads “Ice cream.” For most people with normally active mesolimbic systems, the input is mostly informational: all they process is that there is ice cream nearby.
For others, the words alone can trigger fond memories of ice cream, images of sundaes, and even sensory information like chocolatey taste. This is the mind of someone who is particularly vulnerable to drug and alcohol addiction.
Dopamine and Recovery
Scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how and why some people are more “wired” to be behaviorally triggered by their environments, certain people, places, and things that they associate with getting high. However, insight into the brain sheds a lot of light and paves way for the development of several medications and therapeutic treatment techniques.
Additionally, people can utilize the reward system to steer behavior in positive ways throughout one’s treatment regimen; however, due to the damaging effects drugs have on the central nervous system, it may take a period of several weeks or months before the addict is able to feel sustain happiness or joy from regular tasks. Chronic drug use depletes dopamine and weakens receptors, though they do eventually heal.
Last Resort Recovery
Addiction is as complicated as it is devastating and often requires professional intervention to see a patient through an individualized treatment plan for recovery. If you want to learn more about the role of dopamine in addiction, or you’re ready to find help, then look no further than the Last Resort Recovery near Austin, Texas.
The Last resort offers comprehensive addiction treatment programs, such as exercise and addiction recovery and the family program. Don’t let dopamine in addiction control your life for another day. Contact the Last Resort Recovery for guidance and assistance on the path to sobriety at 877-287-0785.