Dopamine is super important. It plays an essential role in keeping you motivated and keen to thrive in daily life. It’s vital for getting you focused on tasks and battling through distractions. At its worst, a lack of dopamine could lead to depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. When a person doesn’t have enough dopamine, they may feel as though they’ve lost their lust for life. Finding ways to unnaturally inflate dopamine can become an endless pursuit, often leading to substance abuse disorder, addiction, and other risky behaviors. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the easiest natural ways to increase dopamine. But first, what is dopamine?
What is Dopamine?
Dopamine is a kind of neurotransmitter, found within the human brain. It’s naturally produced for the purpose of cell communication within the central nervous system. This is how it gets the nickname “chemical messenger.” Being a chemical messenger, dopamine plays some pretty important roles within your body and brain. Dopamine is responsible for keeping you motivated, focused, and striving. This chemical is very important for you to feel pleasure and a sense of satisfaction. This is especially true during drug addiction recovery. When you’re recovering from addiction, dopamine delivers powerful sensations, including bursts of happiness and satisfaction. These feelings lead you to want to stay clean. But, during early recovery you may lack sufficient dopamine, leading you to want to relapse. Sports and physical activity can help. Exercise releases feel-good chemicals. So do accomplishments and learning new things. If your dopamine is lacking, you could be in danger of relapse. People will go to great lengths to improve dopamine levels when they’re low. This could include taking drugs – that’s why relapse is so common in early recovery. The truth is, most of the things people do to improve their dopamine levels don’t wind up working. Caffeine, drugs, alcohol, and sugary/fatty foods provide a dopamine boost, but they’re also the root cause of addiction and addictive behaviors.
A Lack of Dopamine Can Cause:
- Trouble focusing
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble with motivation
- Negative/Risky behaviors
- Bursts of anger
- Problems sleeping (lethargy, insomnia)
- Sugar cravings
- Addiction switching
How Do You Increase Dopamine After Drug and Alcohol Addiction?
Flooding your brain with dopamine leads to feelings of euphoria, happiness, reward and pleasure. Once the flood of dopamine is over, it’s extremely likely that you’ll be motivated to repeat the behaviors that led to an influx of dopamine to the brain. In fact, it’s natural to want to feel that surge of dopamine again. That’s what our brains do – we want more of anything that feels good. This is exactly what the basis for addiction is. When you ingest chemical or natural substances that flood your brain with high dopamine levels, your brain wants more.
The Best Ways to Increase Dopamine Naturally
Exercise is the best way to increase your dopamine levels naturally. That’s because exercise and physical activity naturally produce feel-good chemicals that boost your mood. An example of feel-good exercise is dance class or yoga. If you move your body a majority of days in the week, you’ll be on your way to naturally increasing dopamine. Plus, immediately following a workout you’ll feel a natural feel-good high.
Sleep is also a great way to increase dopamine. It’s important to get at least eight hours of sleep each night. By making sleep a priority you’re also prioritizing your health after addiction. Addiction may cause you to have sleep problems, such as insomnia. Getting your sleep schedule straightened out will only be positive.
Eat healthy for a natural surge of dopamine. The things you should add to your diet are healthy proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables. Cut down on sugars, fats, and even meat. Don’t cut meat out altogether though. Your body needs protein to naturally produce dopamine. It works this way, the body has amino acids, also called the building blocks of protein – but, in addition to the amino acids your body naturally produces, it needs proteins to make more. Tyrosine makes this possible.
Foods Tyrosine is Found in
- Eggs and other protein-based dairy
Meditation is good for your mental and physical health. It’s also a great component to drug addiction treatment – allowing you to focus on yourself and your inner voice, without judgment. You don’t need a lot of time to meditate. In fact, you can do it at home, in your car, in the subway, sitting, standing – even walking.
Exposure to Sunlight
Getting out of your home and getting some sun is very important for a person’s soul. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a serious condition. It occurs when you don’t get enough exposure to sunlight and as a result suffer from anxiety and depression. There is a direct link between sun exposure and dopamine levels.
Stress is a dopamine killer. Try to avoid it whenever possible. Of course, this is easier said than done. If you’re new to recovery, it’s especially important for you to perform self-care activities like getting a back massage, going for walks, and talking to friends and family on the phone. Self care should be as important to you as exercise and eating healthy.
Especially if you’re new to recovery, ask your doctor if you have any vitamin deficiencies. Here are some of the vitamins/supplements you should ask your doctor about and/or consider taking:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- Ginkgo Biloba
- Vitamin D
- Green tea
- Oregano extract
- Turmeric extract
On the other hand, these are the supplements you may want to avoid in early recovery as they may limit dopamine production:
- Licorice root/Valerian root
- Magnolia bark
Virtual Treatment Center: Who Are We?
At Virtual Treatment Center, we believe quality addiction recovery and mental health services should be easily accessible to those that want or need them, because ease of accessibility is what most often leads to success. That’s why we’re committed to providing top-tier virtual mental health teletherapy and addiction recovery services to all residents of California. Although we’re located in Orange County, our online teletherapy can be accessed throughout the state. In addition to providing addiction recovery services, we treat a variety of mental health issues and offer Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT),Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT). Our teletherapy sessions are done via two-way, live interactive video or by telephone. Therapeutic visits are conducted on Zoom most often, or on other virtual platforms that adhere to HIPAA compliance requirements.