Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain. Neurotransmitters are little communication chemicals each responsible for delivering a unique message. With dopamine, the message is pleasure. Primarily, dopamine communicates with an area of the brain commonly called the rewards center. When there something stimulates the production of dopamine, that is, the production of pleasure, dopamine sends a signal to the reward center about that stimulus. The reward center then sends messages through various glutamate channels through other parts of the brain, essentially making note of this stimulus. Humans like to feel good. The brain is wired for pleasure and enjoys the way that it feels. As humans, we tend to seek out the things which make us feel good. We always turn to our favorite foods, fondest memories, or most nostalgic items. Those things which bring us comfort, happiness, joy, or security, are always preferable.
For millions of people, those ‘things’ are drugs and alcohol. Drugs and alcohol create a surge of dopamine, at any level. However, when drugs and alcohol are abused, therefore consumed at higher levels, they create an even bigger surge of dopamine. Like a flood breaking a damn, the brain is saturated with dopamine, scrambling to compensate and make sense of all the pleasure. Quickly, the brain associates any and all pleasure with drugs and alcohol. Such substances are no longer a source for feelings of happiness, but the source for feelings of happiness. Consequently, upon getting sober, it can be difficult to imagine ever feeling happiness again.
Depression is a common side effect of withdrawal from any kind of substance. The brain has become so dependent upon drugs and alcohol for feelings of pleasure that it cannot produce dopamine on its own. A severe lack of dopamine causes depression. Overtime, dopamine levels come into balance and good feelings return. When it comes to having fun in recovery the truth is, yes, you will have fun in recovery. However, it may take some time. Pleasure and enjoyment might be fleeting at first. In time you will find you laugh more, laugh harder, and enjoy yourself more authentically than you have before in your life. One day you’ll find that the fun you have while sober could never compare to the fun you had while using drugs and alcohol- because it’s so much better.
Aurora Recovery Centre is the light on the path to lifelong recovery. You will feel good again. We provide detox and residential treatment programs on a continuum of care to support you at every phase of your recovery. For more information, call 844-515-STOP.