Dopamine Dialogues: Advice from a Junk Food, Sex, Porn, Acceptance, Music, and Drug-Disdaining Addict

August 4, 2013

Second in a series of dialogues between Charles Lyell and visitors to this site. Anyone interested in joining the discussion is invited to send suggestions, comments, and questions to Charles@DopamineProject.org. Please include “Dopamine Dialogues” in the subject box.

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Subject: Dopamine Dialogues
From:    Anthony
Date:    Fri, Jul 26, 2013 8:17 am
To:    Charles@DopamineProject.org

Dear Charles,

I hope this email finds you well. I felt a big need to message you.

I’m an 18 year old student from an Eastern Mediterranean country. I am a junk food addict: pizzas, hamburgers, coke, frites, big macs, bread, cookies, donuts, cupcakes, chips, chocolate, ice cream. I consume a lot of junk food per day.

I am a sex/porn addict also. No day can pass without watching porn and masturbating constantly.

My interest and knowledge about dopamine started in a “basic health” class at University. Our instructor was lecturing us about drugs, in particular meth.

The lecture included:

  • Meth releases a surge of dopamine, causing an intense rush of pleasure or prolonged sense of euphoria.
  • Over time, meth destroys dopamine receptors, making it impossible to feel pleasure.
  • Although these pleasure centers can heal over time, research suggests that damage to users’ cognitive abilities might be permanent.
  • In lab experiments done on animals, sex causes dopamine levels to jump from 100 to 200 units, and cocaine causes them to spike to 350 units.
  • Methamphetamine causes a release from the base level to about 1,250 units, something that’s about 12 times as much of a release of dopamine released from food and sex and other pleasurable activities.
  • That’s one of the reasons why people, when they take methamphetamine, report having this euphoric [feeling] that’s unlike anything they’ve ever experienced.
  • When the drug wears off, users experience profound depression and feel the need to keep taking the drug to avoid the crash.

In class, I was like: wait, what? Food and sex release dopamine?

I never did drugs because I knew that they were just stupid. I was in shock knowing that I was addicted to DOPAMINE.

Believe it or not, I am addicted to music also. I listen about 6-8 hours of music per day. Once I was educated about dopamine, I went straight to Google, and wrote: music dopamine addiction. I found a lot of articles linking music to dopamine release. Google linked me to your website. Thanks Google.

All I’ve been doing from my childhood to today was feeding dopamine.

The hard part was that “when the drug wears off, users experience profound depression and feel the need to keep taking the drug to avoid the crash.”

This is exactly what happens to me when I stop eating, or stop my sexual activity, or when I experience anything that threatens my safety, power, acceptance and esteem. I always want the drug again, and each time it gets more powerful.

Talking about acceptance, I am addicted also to it, I care a lot what people think about me. I lie about sexuality, my atheist beliefs, etc. (Just for acceptance).

In an article at http://www.pickthebrain.com Michael Miles said:

“We are so desperate for the approval of others that we live unhappy and limited lives, denying huge swathes of ourselves and failing to do the things we really want to do because we’re worried about what other people will think. Just as drug addicts and alcoholics live impoverished lives to keep getting their fix, so we impoverish our own existence to get our own constant fix of approval.

The drug is so addictive that most people will not give it up – they will keep looking for approval because the hit is so intense. But, just as with any drug, there is a price to pay. The price of the approval drug is freedom – the freedom to be ourselves. Do you want your drug or do you want to be free? You cannot have both.”

Miles is right, the drug is highly addictive, but he doesn’t know that the drug he’s talking about is real. We’re not really addicted to acceptance. We are addicted to dopamine release. It is all fake, unreal, unhealthy and stupid.

After your blog, it all made sense to me, and pieces started to reassemble.

The whole society is ignorant, wrong and dysfunctional. I understand how you feel, when you want to inform them. But a lot of people won’t accept it, because they have a disease: “Addiction is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences to the individual that is addicted and to those around him.”

That’s it, it is a sickness. They just don’t want to accept the facts about dopamine, because they’re addicts. No matter how much evidence you present them, they will reject it. The more you argue about it with them, the more they will reject it.

Now, I shall start with my withdrawal to dopamine. It won’t be easy. Cheers.

Regards,
Anthony

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Dear Anthony,

My Email to you was returned as undeliverable. Please consider this post a great big thank you. I hope you’ll reply (and let me know how you feel about my changing your name).

You did an impressive job summarizing and expanding on what I’ve been writing about. It’s especially gratifying to be reminded that an intelligent teen can grasp how dopamine is responsible for all (logical and illogical) behavior. I wish there were more scientists as aware as you are.

Did your teacher mention that Dr. Richard Rawson is the source of the methamphetamine facts you wrote about?

Re: I never did drugs, because I knew that they were just stupid. I was in shock knowing that I was addicted to DOPAMINE.

Ironically, most safety/fear, acceptance/approval/attention, esteem/safety, religion, and money addicts find it easy to deny that they’re addicts because they avoid illegal drugs. Meanwhile, like you, they rely on legal drugs, substances, activities, behaviors, and beliefs to trigger the same dopamine junkies trigger with heroin.

In a strange way, you’re lucky. Most of the individuals who understand what I’m writing about have found the courage (or were forced) to admit to commonly acknowledged addictions. You are the first to admit to addictions that aren’t normally considered addictions. It appears honesty is a prerequisite to understanding how a powerful neurotransmitter manipulates behavior. That’s why a few honest addicts understand dopamine addictions and the many dishonest addicts are afraid to even consider the possibilities.

Everything really does come down to dopamine appeal and dopamine repel because the only thing addicts care about is protecting and triggering dopamine flow. That makes honesty the enemy.

Re: The whole society is ignorant, wrong and dysfunctional. I understand how you feel, when you want to inform them. But a lot of people won’t accept it, because they have a disease.

I know what I’m up against and reaching everyone isn’t a concern or a goal (or a possibility). Granted, it would be nice to reach thousands more (especially researches) who grasp things on the level that you do. But I’m patient. And, as you pointed out, when you did a Google search, DopamineProject.org was there to help you sort things out the same way it will be there for other visitors who are ready, willing, and able to work past the dishonesty that’s keeping everyone in the dark.

Re: That’s it, it is a sickness.

It’s the perfect pandemic. A brain disease capable of keeping sufferers from wanting to know they’re suffering from a brain disease. But not everyone is hopeless. Some people get it and what I’m writing about  will one day be taken for granted. It’s just a question of how long it will take and if our species has enough time.

Re: Now, I shall start with my withdrawal to dopamine. It won’t be easy. Cheers.

No, it won’t be easy, but at least you know what you’re up against.

Let me know how things work out.

Cheers, regards, and thanks again,

Charles

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Discussion

3 Responses to “Dopamine Dialogues: Advice from a Junk Food, Sex, Porn, Acceptance, Music, and Drug-Disdaining Addict”

  1. Today’s treatments fail to cure most addicts. Some medications prevent the drug from getting to its target. These measures leave users with an “addicted brain” and intense drug craving. Other medical interventions mimic a drug’s effects and thereby dampen craving long enough for an addict to kick the habit. These chemical substitutes, however, may merely replace one habit with another. And although nonmedical, rehabilitative treatments–such as the popular 12-step programs–help many people grapple with their addictions, participants still relapse at a high rate.

    Posted by Alonzo Little | August 7, 2013, 10:37 am
  2. When a person uses cocaine, it causes the brain to become flooded with the neurotransmitter dopamine, a chemical messenger essential for controlling pleasure responses and movement. Dopamine is also implicated in drug addiction. During addiction, the dopamine pathways and networks involved in controlling our behavior get dysregulated, Goldstein explained, and chronic use can cause dopamine to respond less to the stimulants. Those changes may lead people to take the drugs compulsively and become addicted.

    Posted by Delmar S. Aguilar | August 21, 2013, 4:21 am
  3. my name is kyle and im 22. i have suffered from adhd my entire life. recently i started dating a woman with cvs( cyclic vomiting syndrome) and has allowed me to take a step back in my life to assess my own issues. i have been pondering this dopamine addiction idea i came up with for a few months now and finally got the motivation to do some research. to my surprise my thoughts and ideas where confirmed 1000 times fold. the sex/ porn addiction, food, and along with the legal ways to attain dopamine, ive been struggling with aggresive driving habits and speeding. trying to get my life back in order is difficult but as i do more research ill be sure to keep in touch, its very nice to know other people out there suffer fromt the same issues. i know what the right thing to do is most of the time, but i cant seem to make the right decisions. thats when i started thinking about the dopamine as something i was unaware of that may have been influencing my poor decision. lucking i have good morals instilled in myself and have been able to stay away from drug addictions by avoiding them all together. besides the most commonly used herb, which i have somehow justified to myself as completely harmless, i could have several opportunities to venture into other drugs but choose not to. word for word most of the information i am finding on this subject describes me to a t.thanks for giving me somewhere i can express my thoughts with others that understand them.

    Posted by kyle | September 21, 2013, 5:14 pm

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