The power of Dopamine on your psyche


  • Author Giorgi Mikhelidze
  • Published December 7, 2020
  • Word count 1,034

If you ever searched for reasons that cause different types of addictive behaviors, probably you would find some information about Dopamine. Dopamine is widely known as a chemical for pleasure that is often associated with addiction. In fact, as scientists suggest, many different addictive behaviors, like addiction to caffeine, alcohol, gambling, social media, and even exercising or self-harm can be attributed to this pleasure hormone.

People often use the term “dopamine rush” in order to describe the process when this chemical is released in our body, making us make impulsive decisions which we then regret. The same happens in the case of addictions. It’s a commonly known fact that too much dopamine causes addiction. Although some of what you’ve heard about this chemical may be more of a myth, still it actually plays an important role in making you addicted to some unpleasant behaviors, sometimes resulting in losing control over yourself. But this role is pretty complex and this is why scientists are still conducting lots of research to find out how exactly dopamine works in the context of addiction. While it helps us to feel pleasure and avoid unpleasant experiences, the long-term effects of dopamine can be really harmful. But in order to fully understand dopamine’s contribution to addiction, let’s first discuss what this chemical is and how it works.

What is Dopamine?

Dopamine is one of the most frequently released neurotransmitters in our brain. It’s a chemical that transports information from one neuron to another and also functions as a hormone. Our brain releases dopamine every time we experience pleasure - no matter whether we eat food, drink coffee, or take part in any of our favorite activities. Thanks to this neurochemical we experience pleasure and satisfaction and as a result, it boosts our mood, motivation, and attention and sometimes even drives our emotional responses.

How it affects our behavior?

Many studies show that Dopamine has a big impact on our behavior and sometimes, it’s even a driving force that makes us impulsively do things that we didn’t even intend for the first time. Although this chemical is widely known as a pleasure hormone, the reality is a little bit more complicated. In fact, high levels of dopamine make us want to seek out and look for pleasurable experiences and the reason is that it increases the general level of arousal. People that have high levels of dopamine are trying hard to seek sensation which helps them to reduce stress and can actually be favorable in the long term. But its harmful effects are more obvious because high levels of dopamine can encourage many risky behaviors such as compulsively checking social media platforms or participating in online video games without stopping.

Role of dopamine in addiction

Dopamine plays an important role in the process of getting addicted but you need to know that it’s not the only reason for addiction. In fact, addiction is a complex brain disorder and it is not caused by only one single obvious cause. However, the resale of dopamine in our brain actually stimulates developing addiction. Usually, people with low levels of dopamine are more vulnerable to develop an addiction. Explaining the reason it’s not really difficult, considering the fact that people often turn to drugs or alcohol in order to seek pleasure.

Let’s see how this process works. Studies found out that in the moment of experiencing pleasure there is a great deal of dopamine in our body. On the contrary, people who don’t experience pleasure have a lack of this chemical in the brain. The need to feel something positive usually drives them to take part in pleasurable activities. Therefore, people with low levels of dopamine often seek pleasure by using drugs or alcohol or playing casino games.

It’s nothing new that taking part in the gambling industry helps people to feel pleasure and therefore, these activities increase dopamine levels. The bottom side of this is that most of the time this pleasure is accompanied by addiction and other serious conditions. But seeking pleasure by participating in gambling activities is a common practice.

Lack of dopamine increases levels of addiction in Georgia

Recently scientists decided to turn the focus of their studies to the direction of some small countries. The case of levels of dopamine and its contribution to addictive behaviors is especially interesting in small nations like Georgia. Georgia is a small country that was part of the Soviet Union. Although levels of dopamine couldn’t be observed at this time, now researchers suggest that due to the extreme poverty during the 90s and the overall economic issues in the country, the level of dopamine would be very low back in these times. Probably, as a result, people tried to find pleasure in activities that were accessible to them, and this is why gambling has always been a popular activity for Georgians. The lack of dopamine made them even more prone to addiction and this may be the reason why we have lots of gamblers in Georgia now.

Today the gambling opportunities are even more diverse for Georgians. There are lots of land-based casinos, as well as online gambling sites that offer players to take part in some traditional games like roulette and gain benefits. Low levels of dopamine still push people to find stimulation in participating in these kinds of activities and as a result, the number of gambling-related addicts in this country has increased in recent years.

Bottom line

To sum up, dopamine is one of the many different factors that contribute to developing an addiction. Although this neurochemical has positive effects in the short-term, it’s long-term impact can be very harmful. But also, the lack of dopamine can be really dangerous as it encourages people to find stimulation in any possible place and this is why sometimes they take part in risky activities impulsively, without even realizing what they do. Therefore, dopamine does take a great part in seeking out to reach pleasurable experiences. So, whether it plays a key role in addiction or not, one thing is certain - dopamine has a great impact on our psyche.

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