Updated: Dec 26, 2021
We live in a world where it is easy to get a quick hit of dopamine, whether it’s from a drink, your phone or that piece of Halloween candy. Drinking alcohol causes a much more intense rush of dopamine compared to eating Oreos. Drinking is such a rush that it leaves you wanting more.
When you artificially increase your dopamine from drinking it can backfire and lead to less dopamine overall. The brain will reduce the production of dopamine if a drug or alcohol artificially recreates the effects of dopamine. This is what leads to you needing more alcohol to get the same effect (tolerance).
Why is this a concern? Dopamine is one of many neurotransmitters in our body. It not only provides pleasure but is helps us think, plan, focus and find things interesting. It’s also involved in many of our body functions like blood flow, digestion, heart and kidney function, motor control, pain processing, sleep, and the stress response.
When you stop drinking your dopamine and other neurotransmitter levels can be much lower leading to feelings of depression and anxiety. It can take some time for dopamine levels to return to normal after abstaining from alcohol (many medical professionals suggest ninety days as a general estimate for dopamine recovery.)
Fortunately, there are ways to naturally increase dopamine and other neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA:
Get adequate sleep
Eat more high protein from meats, nuts, tofu, and soy
Listen to music
Practice meditation and mindfulness
Cut down sugar
Increase magnesium intake
Ensure adequate Vitamin B6
Drink green tea
Get out in the sunlight
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