Motivate, elevate, concentrate: these are all superpowers effectively influenced by the power of Dopamine. Obviously, they are not superpowers, but they certainly may seem like it to those who have found themselves lacking in these qualities and have turned to drugs for a boost. And a boost is an understatement for the effect of drugs on dopamine levels.
First, let’s take a look at this powerful neurotransmitter: Dopamine- It is responsible for many crucial functions in this adventure called life, functions such as:
- The ability to experience pleasure
This last one has a magnetic-like lure for addicts and alcoholics who have primarily relied on substances to provide the impetus for much of the motion called for in life. The lure of continued drug use is further exacerbated by the fact that dopamine “teaches” the brain to repeat whatever the behavior was that brought on an abundance of dopamine.
In healthier pathways of pursuit, where dopamine is boosted through sports and exercise, learning something new, or finishing a task or project, this is a very helpful cycle of motivation.
In the case of drug use, where an excess of dopamine is continually being produced, the brain reduces the number of dopamine receptors to adjust, causing eventual increases in impulsivity and a lack of pleasure in activities that were once found pleasurable.
Having this low volume of receptors can be quite trying when first getting clean and sober. When transitioning into new ways of prompting dopamine production there can be many uncomfortable symptoms of low dopamine, such as:
- Lack of focus
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sugar Cravings
Hope for Brain Recovery
Even though the symptoms of withdrawal and lack of dopamine associated with getting clean and sober can be daunting, there is plenty of hope for recovery. Scientists now have an understanding of the resiliency of the brain. Studies have shown that the brain can even regenerate new brain cells.
So the power to reform a healthy amount of dopamine receptors and re-associate dopamine production with healthy activities, though a process that is unique to each individual, is very much attainable and within reach.
It is a process that is of course aided by being in an environment that supports new ways of thinking and acting in the world, along with plenty of guidance and therapeutic assistance.
So what are some of the methods for recalibrating the brain and naturally boosting dopamine levels? Here are some top ways that you can easily start accessing more dopamine immediately:
- Eat (don’t drink) and be merry: Eat more nutritious, unprocessed food, especially food high in tyrosine (an amino acid involved in the production of dopamine.) Foods high in tyrosine include almonds, bananas, eggs, beans, fish, and chicken.
- Get that body moving: Exercise is a major boost for dopamine (and if you want to double the boost, learn a new form of exercises like an unfamiliar sport or dance. Gaining new skills has a big impact on dopamine production.
- Just say Om: Meditate (Of course Om doesn’t have to be a part of it : ) Simply by learning to deliberately focus on a sound or mantra, OR simply observing without attempting to focus, both these forms of meditation, as well as a host of other methods, can improve dopamine levels both immediately and cumulatively.
- Pamper yourself: Get a massage, soak in a bath, do some deep breathing, sunbathe. Anything that reduces stress levels has the capacity to boost dopamine levels.
- Get your Z’s: This can be a tough one for individuals in withdrawal or who are recently clean and sober, but sleep is so helpful for brain health and dopamine. Sometimes sleep aids are called for. Other times, practicing healthy pre-bed habits, such as staying off screens late at night or extra self-care before bed, can be sufficient for getting some good sleep.
- When you get that feeling, look for musical healing: Uplifting or calming music has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and help with focus and concentration, all of which are associated with increased dopamine levels.
Sound like a lot to keep in mind? One thing at a time. Recovery is a process of learning to compassionately implement new habits of thought and action.
If you are suffering from addiction or alcoholism and need a supportive treatment environment that can help you build these positive pathways for feeling good naturally click here. If your loved one is struggling with addiction or alcoholism and needs a healthy supportive treatment environment click here.
There is no shame in seeking relief. At Oasis Recovery Center, we help those that have struggled with addiction and alcoholism seek relief from healthy avenues. One day at a time, one healthier choice at a time, we do recover.