Happiness is something we all need in life. However, sometimes we may focus too much on it, or a specific activity that makes us happy. They can get out of control and can even lead to addiction. This is because when we engage in enjoyable activities, we indulge in our flood of goodwill.
These feelings are often referred to as “excitement”, which is a well-known “pursuit”.
We will look at the chemical dopamine in the brain and examine how it can be a slippery slope associated with addiction in some people. First, you will understand what dopamine is. Then, we will look at activities that provide a sense of pleasure, why they may cause problems, and what actions you can take to prevent the feeling of overdependence that accompanies a surge in dopamine.
What is dopamine?
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter. This means that it is a chemical substance that can send signals in our brains. Neurotransmitters have multiple functions, and the functions of dopamine are concentrated in the pleasure and reward areas of our brain.
Because of this, it is called one of the “happy chemicals”. Other feel-good chemicals include serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins.
When you do what you like, your brain sends a happy signal to your brain. Then, you associate the activity with pleasure. When this happens, it is difficult to distinguish the occurrence of the body from the pleasure it brings to you.
Then it is normal to record that experience as something that gave you a good feeling.
In addition to pleasure, dopamine is also very important in our daily lives. It plays a role in everything from motivation to emotions to memory. It is necessary to have a healthy level of dopamine. If your body cannot produce enough dopamine, it can lead to problems such as depression and insomnia.
Activities that release dopamine
Basically, anything you feel good about will release dopamine in your brain. Some of them are a good way to naturally ensure that you have adequate dopamine levels, and some are not. These are some examples of activities that release dopamine:
Dangerous behaviors related to dopamine
You may have heard the saying that there may be too many good things. This idea is why dopamine may be someone’s problem.
Let us see what is involved in becoming dependent on the impulse to dopamine.
For example, dependent behaviors can lead to sex addiction. Because it makes us feel good, we may look for it in ways that are not safe for us. This may include having unprotected sex, having sex with a stranger and may be dangerous, or failing to take on the responsibilities of life because you are busy pursuing sex.
Another example of dangerous behavior that may be based on the impulse to dopamine is eating. On the one hand, we want to eat! We cannot survive without it. It is completely normal to want to eat food that tastes good to us.
However, eating can get out of control and become a food addiction, in which case a person’s relationship with food is more about eating to feel good than eating to live.
Alcohol and substance use disorders
The third example of how dopamine can cause problems is alcohol and recreational drugs. These substances release dopamine in the most direct way, and drugs such as cocaine directly flood our brains.
Drug addiction and alcohol abuse can be life-threatening and have a terrible impact on the lives of drug users and other people close to them.
In addition to the above, there are countless other dopamine-oriented activities that can cause major problems and dangerous behaviors. They can be as big as losing financial savings due to gambling, changing lives, or as temporary as over-exercising and overuse of body parts causing minor injuries.
Is dopamine addiction possible?
Technically speaking, it is impossible to become addicted to dopamine. It exists naturally in our body and we cannot take it directly as food or medicine. However, it is entirely possible to become addicted to any activity that increases our dopamine levels.
Although we are not directly addicted to dopamine itself, we may become addicted to certain activities because it releases dopamine in our brains.
Ways to avoid dopamine dependence
Although it’s important to engage in activities that release dopamine, it’s also important not to become dependent on this release in order to feel good on a regular basis.
From enjoying a pleasant act once in a while to indulging in it in a way that is harmful to your life (or the lives of others), this may be much shorter than you think.
Here are some ideas to help you build a healthy relationship with dopamine and help avoid dependence.
In order to avoid getting too many good things, it helps to have boundaries. For example, if you like to exercise but find yourself injured by over-exercising, please make an exercise plan a week in advance.
Check your plan and consider confirming with a professional coach that this is a moderate exercise plan and not a risk of injury due to too much effort.
As for how to set boundaries, if you have a good memory, you can simply think ahead and plan how long you will spend on different activities, or how many activities you will do.
If you want to be more responsible to yourself, or your memory is not very good, then use a diary to write down your boundaries or send yourself an email.
Calm the nerves
Ensuring that you get enough relaxation throughout the day can help eliminate the feeling that you need to do dopamine-promoting activities more frequently than what is considered healthy.
Any self-care exercise can calm your nerves, as can very simple activities such as deep breathing.
Carry out activities attentively
Another good way to pay close attention to yourself and avoid over-dependence on dopamine release is to make yourself more aware of what you are doing.
Mindfulness is an act of paying attention in the moment and every day, rather than being in autonomous driving all the time.
Check yourself before you start doing things you like but you think you might rely on.
Evaluate your feelings, your thoughts, and any concerns you may have about your behavior. Then, when you do this activity, continue to check yourself to make sure everything feels calm and not like you get too into the “climax” of the behavior.
What to do if things get out of control
Addiction is complex, and science is still revealing why it affects some people more than others. Even if you cannot directly become addicted to dopamine, you can also become addicted to any activity that releases it.
If you try to mitigate your behavior, but you are unsuccessful, there are many people who can help you.