Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for transmitting signals between the nerve cells in the brain. Dopamine is a feel-good hormone. It does so by giving us the feeling of reward for the actions we do and those rewards, in turn, give us the motivation to perform those actions more.
It is easy to assume that the higher the level of dopamine, the better, but the key is to maintain a healthy dopamine balance because it influences everything from our movement and sleep to our memory and focus. Too much or too little of it can lead to some serious disorder, like Parkinson’s disease. Dopamine also plays a role in diseases that aren’t related to mental health like obesity, which the American Medical Association classified as a disease in 2013.
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Is dopamine addictive?
In a word, yes. The effects of needing more dopamine result in addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse noticed that the drug user feels promptly affected by the use of drugs and the dopamine it produces in the mind. A puff of marijuana or a snort of cocaine has that immediate sensation. This leads to the user relying heavily on the drugs to produce pleasing feelings. Meanwhile, these drugs make your body less capable of producing dopamine naturally which leads to emotional lows when you’re sober.
How to overcome dopamine addiction?
The initial step in getting help is reaching out. You can converse with your healthcare provider about addiction treatment or ask for a referral to another specialist.
In case you are not open to bringing it up, there are many organizations such as The National Institute on Drug Abuse and The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that can help without requiring you to see your primary healthcare provider.
Addiction treatment often includes medical consideration, mainly if drug misuse is affecting your well-being. However, talk therapy is also an important part of addiction treatment, whether the addiction involves drugs, alcohol, or certain conduct. This type of therapy is ideally the primary treatment for behavioral addictions, such as compulsive betting or shopping.
Ways to increase dopamine levels naturally
- Consuming velvet beans, also known as Mucuna pruriens, which naturally contain high levels of L dopa, the precursor molecule to dopamine can instantly lift your mood.
- Exercise is recommended for boosting endorphin levels, resulting in the release of dopamine.
- Listening to music can also be a fun way to stimulate dopamine release in the brain.
- Practicing meditation is another natural way to increase the dopamine level in our bodies.
- To ensure that your brain releases dopamine naturally, make sure that you’re getting enough sleep. This includes setting aside time before bed away from screens that emit artificial lights. Lack of sleep has been proven to reduce concentrations of neurotransmitters, including dopamine.