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Dopamine and Addiction: How They Connect

The U.S. has a severe addiction problem. According to the Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Services Administration, over 35 million people have a substance use disorder. Addiction is a serious disease that changes the way your brain functions. The connection is physical for many—dopamine and addiction go hand-in-hand.

Dopamine and Addiction

Drugs hijack the brain’s natural reward system by flooding it with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. When you do something that feels good, dopamine is released, which reinforces the behavior, so you’re likely to do it again.

Dopamine and Addictive Substances

Addictive substances stimulate the release of dopamine in a way that is much more intense than natural rewards, like eating or spending time with loved ones. This leads to a feeling of pleasure or euphoria much stronger than the high you get from natural tips.

For example, research shows the release of dopamine with some addictive drugs is between two and ten times greater than the release caused by natural rewards, like eating or sex.

The high from drugs is so intense that it can override the brain’s natural reward system, making you want to keep using despite the negative consequences.

Dopamine and the Brain’s Reward System

The brain’s reward system helps us survive and reproduce. It gives us pleasure when we do things that support these basic drives. The reward system comprises the ventral tegmental area (VTA), nucleus accumbens, and the prefrontal cortex.

Dopamine comes from the VTA. The nucleus accumbens receive dopamine signals from the VTA and handle the feeling of pleasure we get from rewards. The prefrontal cortex deals with decision-making and modulates the VTA’s activity.

These connections show why professional help is necessary to overcome addiction. Drug rehab in MA can help patients by providing a safe and structured environment to detox and heal.

Dopamine and Addiction Treatment in MA

If you’re struggling with an addiction, dopamine may be part of the reason it’s so hard to quit. But there is hope—addiction treatment can help you overcome your addiction and live a sober life.

At a drug rehab in MA, you’ll work with a team of addiction experts who will help you understand your addiction and develop a treatment plan tailored to your unique needs.

Addiction treatment typically includes some combination of detox, therapy, and aftercare.

Detox is the first step in addiction treatment in MA. And with some dopamine and addiction connections, it’s a vital step. During detox, you’ll be monitored 24/7 to ensure your safety and comfort as your body clears the substances from your system.

After detox, you’ll begin therapy. This is where you can understand your addiction and learn how to manage your triggers and cravings. You’ll also work on developing healthy coping mechanisms and building a support network.

Aftercare is an integral part of addiction treatment in MA. It can help you stay on track after leaving treatment and prevent relapse. Aftercare typically includes individual therapy, group therapy, and 12-step programs.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, don’t wait to get help. Contact a drug rehab in MA today to learn more about how we can help you overcome your addiction and live a sober life.

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