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What Causes Addictive Behavior?

It's no secret that drugs and alcohol can have a negative impact on a person's health, mood, and relationships. However, that doesn't always deter people from using them.

Why is that?

Humans have a built-in natural reward system that is influenced by a neurotransmitter called dopamine. This chemical messenger boosts mood, motivation, attention, regulates movement, learning, emotional response, and even helps us maintain our weight. When our body doesn't make enough dopamine naturally, many people turn to alternative sources to get their boost of dopamine.

Drugs and alcohol pack a big hit of dopamine with every dose, up to 10x more than your body can produce naturally. However, this flooding of your brain with dopamine will also make you less sensitive to its effects, which means that over time you will need more and more drugs or alcohol to get the same high. As your tolerance increases, your body also decreases its ability to make dopamine naturally. This cycle of super highs when using and super lows when sober is what leads to the addiction cycle.

What do you turn to when you feel stressed, upset, unhappy, want to escape reality, are in pain, or just trying to fit in?
If you currently find yourself struggling with addiction or worry that you may be heading down that path:

Call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

They provide free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information services.


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