Substance Abuse’s Effect On Dopamine
Every drug that leads to dependence has been shown to affect the brain’s dopamine system. With some drugs, such as stimulants like amphetamines and cocaine, there is a direct effect on dopamine production while others appear to affect it indirectly.
In the case of alcohol, it does not increase dopamine levels directly. However, there is an indirect link. In fact, everything that provides pleasure has the ability to perpetuate a release of dopamine in the reward pathway of the brain along with triggering an endorphin release.
Research has shown that dopamine produces feelings of “wanting” and “reward,” but this is not the same thing as “liking” or “valuation.” In other words, the dopamine produced from something pleasurable can make you crave more of it and will reinforce habitual use of it whether this is drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping, sex, or other pleasurable activity.
The Link Between Addiction And Mental Illness
While anyone can gain the dopamine effect of drugs or alcohol, it is much more complex when it comes to someone who is also struggling with a mental illness like anxiety or depression. For these individuals, addictive substances are used to not only gain the benefits of increased dopamine, they are also used to medicate the often painful symptoms of mental illness. This makes both diagnosis and treatment more challenging. This is why it’s so important to choose an addiction treatment provider that has experience and expertise in treating co-occurring disorders.
Understanding The Numbers Of Addiction
No one begins taking drugs or alcohol with the intention of becoming addicted. Yet, a substantial percentage get caught into the trap of drug or alcohol abuse and addiction. A few statistics to consider:
- Nearly one in 10 Americans are addicted to alcohol or drugs.
- It’s estimated that over 95% of individuals who need treatment for alcohol addiction do not really believe they need treatment.
- The top five most addicting drugs are heroin, cocaine, meth, opioid prescription pain relievers and alcohol.
Do You Have A Drug Or Alcohol Addiction?
Are you concerned that you or a loved one has an addiction to drugs or alcohol? The answer can sometimes seem unclear. Here are a few questions to ask:
- Do you or your loved one use more of the substance or engage in the behavior more often than in the past?
- Do you or your loved one experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using the substance?
- Have you or your loved one ever lied to anyone about your use of the substance?
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, addiction is a very real possibility.
It’s Not Easy Admitting That You Need Help
Although much more is known now about addiction than in decades past, there is still a stigma and shame associated with it. It can be difficult to admit that you have a problem and that you need help. However, the first step in getting help is reaching out to get it. Call a staff member at Summit Estate today. We will treat you with the respect and care that you need.
We will be with you every step of the way. Call now.
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