Dopamine is a neurotransmitter of the brain that creates feelings of euphoria, pleasure and motivation. The brain naturally produces dopamine to enhance the thinking and behavior of a person. There are many mood-enhancing substances and activities that will increase the dopamine level in the brain such as eating, sex, nicotine, alcohol and drugs. When the dopamine level is spiked by these outside influences the brain tries to adjust by slowing down the natural production of dopamine. If this activity persists the production of dopamine will eventually cease.
Substance abuse will change brain chemistry, and the brain will respond to the chemical substances it has been given. At this point, the brain is now relying on the drugs or alcohol to produce the dopamine that it needs. If the intake of the drugs or alcohol is reduced or stopped, the brain will respond with intense cravings for the substance, because the brain’s dopamine level has been depleted and the brain has stopped producing dopamine. Without the presence of dopamine in the brain, the opposite effects of dopamine will begin. Instead of feeling happy and content, the addict will start to experience mental disorders like anxiety, depression, paranoia, etc. Over time the severity of mental disorders may lead to chronic depression, suicidal thoughts and behavior.
Anyone with an alcohol or drug problem can find the help they need at a certified rehab treatment center. The patient will be treated by medical professionals who have sufficient knowledge and experience with drug and alcohol addiction. The treatment center offers many effective treatment programs to assist the patient through each stage of recovery. There are inpatient and outpatient programs, but if the addiction is severe an inpatient program is advised both for safety and effectiveness. Once the patient has been admitted to the treatment center they will be physically and mentally examined and assessed. A program of treatment will be planned based on the patient’s assessment.
Detox is usually the first phase of treatment and the patient will slowly be weaned off of all addictive substances. Withdrawal symptoms are usually treated with medications that alleviate or eliminate the problems. Dopamine levels in the patient’s brain will be very low to non-existent, and it can take up to six months or more for the brain to start producing dopamine on its own again. Programs at the treatment center will begin that are designed to naturally replace dopamine in the brain. This is an important step in the recovery process because dopamine influences learning, attention, concentration, well-being, moods, creativity, energy levels, motivation and more.
Mood Enhancing Therapies
To compensate for a deficiency of dopamine levels in the brain, there are a wide range of mood enhancing therapies that will help in the recovery of natural dopamine:
- Exercise is a wonderful therapy for both the body and the brain. It increases dopamine output by the brain and also other important brain chemicals like serotonin and endorphins.
- Chocolate not only tastes great but increases dopamine levels in the brain. Having a small piece of chocolate for dessert will help brain dopamine levels and also create a happy mood.
- Supplementation of L-Tyrosine, a natural amino acid, will increase dopamine levels in the brain and reverse depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. It also increases motivation and focus. Eating nutritious meals is another important step in recovery because it strengthens both the body and mind to function better. Some dopamine rich foods are: avocado, spirilina, milk, cheese, yogurt, peanuts, almonds, blueberries, sesame and pumpkin seeds, whole wheat, oats, chicken, fish, turkey and eggs.
- Music is a wonderful dopamine enhancer. Try music that is soothing, relaxing and upbeat for best results.
- Massage relaxes the body, eases aches and pains, helps with circulation and improves mood by enhancing dopamine levels.
- Meditation, prayer and praise elevate the mind and spirit and create feelings of peace, joy and euphoria.
Recovery from an alcohol or drug problem is most effective when the patient is in a rehab treatment center. These facilities do much more than just detox the body from chemical addictions. The programs offered at treatment centers educate and retrain the patient to function in a healthy, constructive manner. They bring physical and psychological healing to suffering souls and their families, and equip the patient with the tools necessary to live a life free from any alcohol or drug problem. Every phase of treatment brings the patient closer to a balanced level of body, mind and spirit.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.