Dopamine: The Chemistry of Addictions

What actually drives us? Why do we do a particular task? The answer to the questions are Emotions ; We can’t imagine the volcano of revenge beneath a suicide bomber. On another side, we experience the purest and the most finest unconditional love from our parents. The burning desire inside a sprinter to reach the finish line first, the energy inside a son to fulfill the only dream of his parent, the frustration of swimmer who fall short by 0.01 second from a gold medal, the greed of business man to have tonnes of money, and many other kinds of emotions which have control on us.

Do you know what would be going inside Romeo’s brain? Only one thought “Juliet, you make my dopamine levels go all silly”. So what’s dopamine?

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (A brain chemical that communicates information between brain and body) and it looks something like this:

Source: Wikipedia

In the morning, we have an urge of having a coffee, a kiss of wife before going to office makes him feel at top of the world, a desire to buy stocks on an opening of the stock market and have instant profit. The want to have delicious lunch, a hankering to have evening cigarette and lust to have sex at night. In all above instances, we feel love, lust and desire as dopamine is released. At the rudimentary level, we can say that as dopamine is released by our brain we do have a feeling of pleasure.

My pleasure centres​ were to play video games, listening to music, sleeping and be active on social media. When I used to sit down for my work, I always ended up playing games which resulted in delaying my schedule. Why is it so? Why my brain is more prone towards pleasure? The answer is… Yes, you guessed right Dopamine. We experience pleasure, due to release of dopamine. On its release, it tells the brain to remember the source of pleasure. In a nutshell, when we feel exciting sensation and dopamine levels are high it’s like someone is telling to our brain “Pay attention to this ecstatic moment. Do not Forget it”.

When we do any pleasurable activity for the first time, brain notices it and remember it. And in free time again brain reminds us to experience the same pleasure, we had in past. Under the hood, dopamine which was released in past wanted to be released again, we perform that activity again… and again brain remembers it. This cycle continues and that pleasurable activity turns into Addiction.

Addiction Cycle.

The more number of times we complete the cycle, the more want we have to do it again. The need becomes stronger each time we complete the cycle. As we keep doing it, our brain adds a survival value to that activity. That means it tops the list of Roti, kapda and makan (food, cloth and shelter). We can’t survive without performing that activity.

As time passes, it becomes more a necessity rather than pleasurable experience. It’s like we don’t feel better by wearing old clothes, it’s just that putting clothes is a necessity. The answer to the question: I know my addiction is injurious to me but still I can’t live without it. Because our brain has attached a survival value to that addiction. Addictions like Facebooking, masturbation, drugs, smoking​, alcohol, Snapchat, food, sugary soda, junk food, gambling affects the brain in a very similar way but drugs tops the list. The amount of dopamine released by the drugs are very very high and that much addictive they are!

So what can be done? The goal of this article is that when we perform any activity we should be fully aware, we can be easily able to prioritise our works, execute it without any distractions and not just because it feels good to do that work. Next time when you are about to practice your addiction think this “That freaking dopamine wanted to be release again, I should be one to control the brain, the brain can’t control me”.

Hope by reading this dopamine is released in your brain. Your Comments and suggestions matter me the most. If you liked it, press “💚” in the bottom.

Thank you!

-SodhA