Dopamine Addiction: Definition, Common Signs & Options For Help


Dopamine addiction is a very real and serious addiction that affects many. When people discuss addiction, they typically think of drugs, sex, and gambling, but what do all those things have in common?

They provide an extreme shot of dopamine to continuously reinforce their addiction, that’s why so many people can fall victim to these. But worry not, you’re not alone.

Given that dopamine is the brain’s reward system that provides pleasure, it’s understandable we and our loved ones go through such tiring times to quit for once their addiction issues.

Fortunately, there are several proven ways to treat it, and get better within a short period.

What is a Dopamine Addiction

A person with a dopamine addiction is constantly looking for ways to create that feel-good chemical that the brain releases. Dopamine addiction is a problem because it leads to impulsive and destructive behaviors just for a dopamine fix.

The human brain revolves around pleasure and pain, and dopamine helps our brain decide what that pleasure is. Put simply, your body creates dopamine, and your body’s nervous system uses dopamine to send messages between your never cells.

You get a rush of dopamine when you do or experience certain things—for example, accomplishing something challenging or eating something delicious. Your brain uses dopamine to ensure you seek out that pleasure again.

Dopamine was once crucial for human survival. Now we can create dopamine artificially through social media, video games, movies, and substances. With such easy access to dopamine, addiction becomes a concerning problem.

Do Dopamine Addiction Urges Go Away?

Dopamine addiction is interesting because the body can reset its dopamine levels after detoxifying and starving itself of any dopamine-inducing activities. Once this is done, your dopamine urges will typically disappear, but that’s not the whole story.

While your current dopamine addiction urges will go away, your brain can replace them with other equally harmful addictions to get its dopamine fix. That’s why you must practice moderation if you truly want your dopamine addiction urges to disappear.

Forms of Dopamine Addiction

You might be wondering, what is considered an addiction? Here are some different types of addictions in which dopamine plays a huge role.

1. Social Media Addiction

Neuroscientists identified that the dopamine you get from social stimuli, such as laughing, positive conversations, and loving words, activates dopaminergic reward pathways. Social media ensures people receive these constant social stimuli. That means that getting the same social stimuli will take more interaction with social media, leading to addiction.

2. Substance Abuse

Let’s discuss dopamine’s role in drug addiction. Normal foods and activities create a jolt of dopamine in the person. Substances such as cocaine do it differently. Instead of a small jolt, cocaine, opioids, and nicotine cause dopamine to flood the reward pathways in the brain to extreme levels.

3. Eating Disorders

Binge eating is an extremely dangerous eating disorder that leads many Americans to an early grave. Eating induces shots of dopamine into your brain to ensure you keep yourself alive, but having an addiction to eating creates health problems like obesity and cardiovascular disease.

4. Video Game Addiction

With the rise of streaming platforms and constant marketing tactics, video game addiction has become a real and worrying trend for the younger generation. While many want to deny it, video game addiction leads to a lack of work, health decline, and meaningful social interactions.

5. Sex and Masturbation Addiction

Next to food, our next basic dopamine reward is sex. Pornography has given everyone with an internet connection access to numerous forms of sexual stimuli leading to an overabundance of dopamine. Sex and masturbation addiction can lead to self-destructive behavior and relationship sabotage.

Dopamine Addiction Statistics

Here are some statistics that relate to the forms of dopamine addictions previously discussed. Consider them closely and remember that these are real, and people suffer from them daily.

  • Social media addiction statistics: According to an article by California State University, roughly 10% of Americans show signs of addiction to social media. That’s nearly 33 million Americans constantly glued to their phone and going through their social media daily.
  • Substance abuse statistics: Consider how many Americans are addicted to some type of substance, over 20 million. It gets worse. Over 42 states in the U.S. reported an increase in overdose-related deaths. While people may blame the drug, dopamine plays a huge role in these drug addiction studies.
  • Eating disorder statistics: It’s estimated that nearly 2.8 million Americans suffer from binge eating disorders. Dopamine’s role in binge eating is prevalent, and knowing that a lack of impulse control and dopamine intake plays a major role in this disorder is even scarier.
  • Video game addiction statistics: According to psychology today, gaming doubles dopamine levels above normal resting levels. While not as damaging as substances that raise it by ten times, it’s still noticeable and may lead to addictive behavior.
  • Sex addiction statistics: Hookup apps and pornography websites make it easier for adults to seek out sexual activities freely. Nearly 24 million U.S. citizens show signs of sex addiction.

What are the Signs of a Dopamine Addiction?

While it’s important to understand dopamine addiction, it is also crucial to identify it. Think of a loved one who may be going through some form of addiction. Please don’t delay in identifying it or take any chances. Look for these signs in yourself or your loved ones.

  • Insomnia: Many dopamine addicts find it difficult to maintain their regular sleeping schedule because of how often they overstimulate their brains. Impulsive decisions lead to activities that cut sleep altogether, leading to severe insomnia.
  • Depression: An imbalance of dopamine leaves a person feeling unfulfilled or in a constant state of helplessness. Their cravings and the things they enjoy no longer satisfy their needs.
  • Irritability: People who suffer from dopamine addiction become irritable over most things. Commonly, the things that irritate them the most are doing activities that don’t give them jolts of dopamine.
  • Impulsiveness: Dopamine addicts actively seek ways to raise their dopamine levels through activities that may do it, even if it damages their overall health.
  • Loss of time: Depending on the addictive activities, dopamine addicts don’t grasp time since they’re typically engrossed in their addictive acts.
  • Anxiety: While genetics can be a factor, people with dopamine addiction tend to show signs of anxiety. Dopamine addicts who show anxiety will make sudden decisions and socialize less.

Types of Unhealthy Dopamine Behavior

Now that you know the signs, it’s time to understand the unhealthy behaviors stemming from dopamine addiction.

It can be troubling to discuss some of these things but remember that the mind of someone who is addicted to dopamine operates differently than the norm.

  • Inability to fulfill obligations: Plenty of times, dopamine addicts shrug off friends, families, and employers to seek that thrilling dopamine rush. It becomes extremely destructive for the individual because friends will no longer rely on that addict, and family members will start to bear the brunt of the responsibility of taking care of a dopamine addict.
  • Compulsive behavior: Dopamine addicts actively partake in activities that provide them with a dopamine fix regardless of the long-term effects. Most dopamine addicts will find themselves in difficult spots and become financially unstable because of their compulsive decisions.
  • Aggressiveness: Along with being irritable, dopamine addicts tend to show signs of aggression toward others. The more someone tries to help the dopamine addict by recommending something helpful, like addiction therapy, the more aggressive they may become. The problem then continues, and the dopamine addict reinforces their behavior.

What is the Main Cause of Dopamine Addiction?

The main cause of dopamine addiction is the overstimulation of your brain’s dopamine pathways. The addiction itself stems from an overabundance of dopamine constantly rewarding the person for participating in the activity.

That activity then becomes the addictive behavior you see in dopamine addicts. Many believe dopamine addiction isn’t the underlying reason for addiction, but it’s more complex.

Dopamine plays a role in most addictions but is a motivator in other addictions, such as substance abuse.

Think about someone who plays video games day and night and neglects their hygiene, work, family, and friends. Your brain justifies playing video games all day because it makes you feel good. Why does this happen? Well, it works like this.

Depending on your actions, your brain adapts and adjusts dopamine levels over time. That means once you do something repeatedly to get your dopamine fix, it will take more of that action or longer for you to get that same feeling you did before.

How Dopamine Addiction Affects the Brain

Your brain often motivates you to do certain tasks because they benefit you. Even so, doing one of those tasks too often creates an addictive behavior that can be destructive such as eating too much, playing too many video games, or having too much sex.

In the case of dopamine addicts, their brain focuses on activities that fulfill their innate desire to feel good, and they only focus on those actions.

For example, think about your happy memories as a kid doing a certain activity. Sometimes you’ll dwell and think of those memories fondly, but some people do it so often that they’re never present and watch current events slip past them.

What Is The Personality of a Dopamine Addict?

It depends on the person, but typically dopamine addicts tend to be impulsive and often spontaneous. While that might not sound too bad, you have to consider how destructive that can become for a person.

For example, dopamine addicts have awful impulse control. That’s why they’re spontaneous and often restless. A person with a dopamine addiction will fixate on certain activities to the point that they’ll neglect their sleep, health, and responsibilities.

Is Dopamine Addiction a Mental Health Issue?

Dopamine levels and addiction are linked to mental health issues. Having dopamine levels too low directly links to mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia. Conversely, too high dopamine levels directly link to impulse control behaviors such as binge eating.

What Mental Illnesses Go Hand In Hand With Dopamine Addiction?

Depression goes hand in hand with dopamine addiction. Dopamine addicts with destructive behaviors fall into a loop of neglecting responsibilities. These people will have difficulty breaking away from their habits and feel hopeless and stuck, leading to depression.

Another but often debated one is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. The details and causes of ADHD are unknown, but many agree that dopamine plays a level in it. Since people with ADHD lack impulse control and favor dopamine-inducing behaviors, it’s not uncommon to create a connection between the two.

How Do I Stop My Dopamine Addiction?

There are many methods to treat addiction. For dopamine addiction, the best method is fasting, but fasting is brutal for many. The road to recovery will be difficult, aggravating, and challenging. Still, it will be worth the struggle once you regain optimal dopamine levels.

Can Dopamine Addiction Ever Be Cured?

With enough effort, yes, any dopamine addiction is curable. The problem is having the motivation and knowledge to do it properly. People treat their dopamine addiction in many ways, like medications for addiction. Still, depending on the severity, some methods may be less effective than others.

What is the Most Common Treatment for Dopamine Addiction?

Addiction treatment centers are the go-to choice, but dopamine fasting is a tried and true method that works on most dopamine addicts. To fast properly, the individual must avoid any dopamine-inducing activities for an entire day, a full 24 hours.

From there, you’ll slowly introduce dopamine-inducing activities in moderation. Doing this may seem impossible for some people, but it’s the quickest and most effective way to reset your brain. Remember, moderation is the key.

Some take it further and fast for an entire month, but cutting out all dopamine for an entire month is nearly impossible. Instead, people focus on cutting out their most addictive dopamine behavior for that month and introduce healthier habits.

What Can I Replace Dopamine With?

The neat part about dopamine fasting and dopamine as a whole is that you can replace unhealthy addictive activities with healthy ones, such as exercising. Writing, art, music, or cooking are other dopamine-inducing activities that provide a positive outcome for most people.

Even so, you must remember that anything in large amounts is still not good for you. For example, excessive exercise leads to extreme weight loss or bodily injury, and indulging in the arts for too long may cause you to neglect your daily activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

There’s plenty to understand about dopamine addiction, but it may be overwhelming for some. Here are some answers to questions about dopamine addiction.

Is Dopamine Bad For Your Brain?

Dopamine isn’t bad for your brain. Dopamine is good for your brain since it motivates you to do things for your own benefit, such as finding food and daily tasks. At the basic level, the right amount of dopamine is good for you, not bad.

What Food Increases Dopamine?

Plenty depends on the person, but fruits with natural sugar, like apples, pineapples, and grapes, actually increase your dopamine. Artificial sugars do the same as junk food, but interestingly enough, tomatoes also help regulate and improve your dopamine levels.

Additional Addictions to Be Aware Of

Dopamine addiction isn’t the only addictive behavior to keep in mind. Other addictive behaviors are common and accessible to most people. It may surprise you how accessible and dangerous some of these addictive behaviors are for people.

  • Drug Addiction: From painkillers to cocaine, substance abuse leads to critical mental and physical issues for the addict. Treat this addiction immediately.
  • Social Media Addiction: Now that social media is accessible to everyone of all ages, the dangers of addiction are more prominent than ever as people glue themselves to their phones.
  • Love Addiction: Believe it or not, love addiction is very real and can lead to damaging and manipulative behaviors and impulse issues for many people.

Wrapping Up

Catch the signs and understand that dopamine addiction can happen to anyone. Regardless of who it’s for, please take the time to truly understand what they’re going through. If you’re currently struggling with addiction, it’s never too late to seek help.

Hopefully, this article helps answer any questions you have about dopamine addiction. Remember, it’s not the end of the world. You can always seek help, and there are treatments for dopamine and other related addictions.


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