Dopamine Effect

@mawut0r |

Photo by Inimfon Ekpoh

If you've never been severely addicted to anything, it is easy to write a bunch of words judging addicts. It is easy to judge the middle-aged man who wakes up as early as 5 am to get drunk on hard liquor. It is easy to judge the young lady who keeps going back to her abusive relationship no matter how bad it gets. 

It is easy to judge these situations because clearly, they're acting against their self-interest in the long term. The middle-aged man might develop liver and kidney complications in the near term, and the young lady might even lose her life. 

Why is the man addicted to cigarette smoking aware of the damaging effects yet still continues to indulge? Science can tell why a particular substance is addictive and can generally define addiction but can't go any further. The problem of addiction is deeper than we can think of, and it is more metaphysical than mere science. 

The human flesh is a pleasure hog, and pleasure is controlled within the brain by suppressing and releasing mood chemicals like dopamine. When dopamine is released, you feel good. When dopamine is suppressed, you feel not so good. Naturally, dopamine is released when we do something worthwhile, like solving a difficult problem or achieving a feat. 

However, we can bypass the natural process by performing actions or ingesting substances that release dopamine without doing anything worthwhile. This is good for people who are in severe pain but for the afflicted, it is a way to escape reality.  There is a clear line between bypassing the natural way of dopamine release and working your ass off for what it's worth. That line is pain. People who are addicted to social media want to avoid the pain of the real world. The same applies to people who are hooked on hard drugs.

So if you've been paying attention, addicts are addicts because they can't deal with the pain. And who are we to judge someone for trying to escape the harsh realities of life? We are the cause of each other's pain as we mindlessly abuse people without regard for feelings. Pain is not easy to handle and as such, we can't judge how someone decides to handle theirs. 

But to be emphatic, drug use is a slippery slope. The same goes for any substance or action that triggers the instant release of dopamine without any worthwhile activity. Seeking pleasure for the sake of pleasure is disastrous, to say the least. Once you get hooked, it slowly detaches you from reality and eventually leaves you with no conscience. 

So the next time you see an addict of any kind, show some empathy and some love. Addiction is a one-way road and there's no way back except through love. Therapy and rehab are almost useless. Only love and empathy can bring one back from the dark bottomless pit of addiction. Let us love one another and make this place we call earth more habitable. Love is instant dopamine with no side effects.