Addiction: The Ultimate Dopamine Trap


Addictions to harmful actions or substances can hurt your physical and mental health. Image from Pexels.

H. Muthukrishnan, Staff Writer

The story of addiction…

Addiction: the story that ruins the lives of many people. Whether it’s more serious, such as drug or alcohol use, sexual wants, or unhealthy eating habits, or even something more common, such as binging TV, high social media use, or hanging out with the wrong people, addiction plays a role in almost everyone’s lives. Facing the more serious compulsions, the outcomes of taking part in these activities are far more than an addiction. Dopamine doesn’t become the only thing addicts chase. Actions such as taking drugs and consuming alcohol contain addictive material, feeding the drive for you to do it again and again and weakening the overall control you have over your actions. 

The supported science behind addiction…

Psychologists refer to addiction as “a dopamine trap,” your mind working with the reward center chasing the “reward,” releasing dopamine as a result. However, a common question that arises is what is dopamine? How does it charge and energize our drive to do things? A recent study by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation based on the role of dopamine in drug abuse and addiction, quotes what dopamine really is and how it affects us. “Research has shown that the drugs most commonly abused by humans (including opiates, alcohol, nicotine, amphetamines, and cocaine) create a neurochemical reaction that significantly increases the amount of dopamine that is released by neurons in the brain’s reward center,” quotes the foundation. Dopamine is essentially a hormone and neurotransmitter that is released by your body to give you pleasure and contentment. You can see how doing negative things consistently has a larger effect on you than you think. Each time you give into an addiction, the neurons in your brain form stronger and more bonds with each other to drive you to do it again and again, that’s why some people find it very difficult to recover from more harmful addictions, such as drug and alcohol use.

What happens if you keep giving in?

The posed question by many of those who suffer from addictions is, no matter the circumstance, what really happens if I keep committing the act at hand? What happens to you, in simple words, is your mental health is significantly altered. No matter what major addiction you’re dealing with, you will experience constant changes in moods. Sometimes addicts are extremely aggressive and sometimes they’re very quiet. If you’re experiencing drug addiction and constantly giving in when you don’t want to, your confidence drops. Your brain is continuously telling itself it has less and less self-control over its voluntary actions, reducing your confidence in things as simple as communicating with peers or performing well in a sports game. Every time you give into your addiction, you’re subconsciously telling your brain you can’t do things, which applies to everything else you wish to achieve. Lastly, another broadly talked about side effect would be a significant decrease in motivation. We can see this with sexual addiction, for when we commit acts, we lose energy which kills our motivation to do things that are important and considered routine to our lifestyle.