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Dopamine Addiction: A Guide to Dopamine’s Role in Addiction

Dopamine Addiction: A Guide to Dopamine’s Role in Addiction

Dopamine’s effects on neuronal function depend on the specific dopamine-receptor subtype that is activated on the postsynaptic cell. For example, different subpopulations of neurons in the striatum carry different dopamine receptors on their surfaces (Le Moine et al. 1990, 1991; Gerfen 1992). Dopamine binding to D1 receptors enhances the excitatory effects that result from glutamate’s interaction with a specific glutamate receptor subtype (i.e., the NMDA receptor4). Conversely, activation of D2 receptors inhibits the effects induced by glutamate’s binding to another glutamate-receptor subtype (i.e., the AMPA receptor5) (Cepeda et al. 1993). (For more information on glutamate receptor subtypes, see the article by Gonzales and Jaworski, pp. 120–127.) Consequently, dopamine can facilitate or inhibit excitatory neurotransmission, depending on the dopamine-receptor subtype activated. Moreover, even with the same receptor affected, dopamine’s effects can vary, depending on the potential of the membrane where dopamine receptors are activated (Kitai and Surmeier 1993).

  • Eating lots of fruits and vegetables, especially bananas, can increase dopamine production.
  • When the brain fails to produce enough dopamine, it can result in Parkinson’s disease.
  • It is estimated that between 14-20m people worldwide use cocaine and that in 2009 the cocaine market was worth about $75 billion.
  • Certain medications can be used to help balance dopamine levels in the brain.
  • It works with other neurotransmitters and hormones, such as serotonin and adrenaline.

This will kick up dopamine production, Peterson explains, and you’ll get a mental health boost that lasts. When experiencing a perceived threat, real or imagined, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is activated, triggering the release of dopamine and other catecholamines, alcohol and dopamine which help in responding to stress. 3By breeding rats with similar alcohol-consumption patterns (e.g., high consumption or low consumption) with each other for several generations, researchers created two strains with distinctly different preferences for alcohol.

Natural Ways to Balance Dopamine Levels

Dopaminergic neurons produce dopamine from the dietary amino acid tyrosine. The neurons then store the dopamine in small compartments (i.e., vesicles) in the terminals of their axons. Nicotine has various effects on the brain, the central nervous system, and also implicated the cardiovascular system and even metabolism. In the brain, nicotine triggers the release of several neurotransmitters including dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine, glutamate, and acetylcholine. These neurotransmitters have various functions in the body, and with nicotine present in the body, it interferes with how these neurotransmitters bind with their respective receptors hence interfering with their roles in the body.

Examples include nicotine, although it’s most frequently characterized as a stimulant, and alcohol, which is primarily a depressant but has some stimulant effects (3, 4). On the other hand, depressants slow you down by decreasing your heart rate and blood pressure. They can help you feel relaxed and, on the extreme end, completely sedate you (2). This article reviews the effects of alcohol, both as a stimulant and a depressant.

Addiction and Mental Health Resources

It’s true that alcohol directly affects the brain, but not in positive ways. While drinking may make you feel a little more confident, it’s just a mask that you can hide behind. Self-acceptance without alcohol is the real way to find the strength to be yourself. It’s a complicated organ with billions of neurons shooting messages to each other to sustain critical life functions, coordinate muscular action, and learn new skills. Many medical practitioners recommend a ninety-day time frame for dopamine recovery.

  • Alcohol exposure alters several aspects of serotonergic signal transmission in the brain.
  • Cocaine directly interferes with the brain’s use of dopamine to convey messages from one neuron to another.
  • To modulate the responsiveness of neighboring neurons to glutamate, dopamine modifies the function of ion channels in the membrane of the signal-receiving (i.e., postsynaptic) neuron.

The axons of the neurons in the raphe nucleus extend, or project, throughout the brain to numerous regions with diverse functions. In these brain regions, the axon endings of the serotonergic neurons secrete serotonin when activated. The neurotransmitter then traverses the small space separating the neurons from each other (i.e., the synaptic cleft) and binds to specialized docking molecules (i.e., receptors) on the recipient cell.

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