I think this quote from The American Society of Addiction Medicine sums up what actually happens during addiction pretty well..
“Addiction is not about drugs, it’s about brains. It is not the substances a person uses that make them an addict; it is not even the quantity or frequency of use. Addiction is about what happens in a person’s brain when they are exposed to rewarding substances or rewarding behaviors, and it is more about reward circuitry in the brain than it is about the external chemicals or behavior that “turn on” that reward circuitry.”
If you’ve used opiates for longer than 2-4 weeks, then you’re probably lacking in natural “feel good” brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters.
Your brain has four primary neurotransmitters and each one plays a critical and different role in your health and how you feel.
So what do they do for you?
When heroin and other opioid prescription pain relievers are abused for longer than a couple weeks, your brain slowly stops producing neurotransmitters critical for your health. And the longer you continually use drugs the fewer neurotransmitters your body will be naturally producing.
Opiates release 2 to 10 times the amount of dopamine that natural rewards do.
This chart shows you how much more pleasure you get from using cocaine rather than from eating: Your body typically receives 2 – 10x the amount of natural rewards & dopamine released when using drugs.
All Opiates and Narcotics including Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, Heroin, Morphine & Drugs Like Cocaine, Adderall, Amphetamines Increase feel good chemicals like Dopamine, Endorphins & Serotonin. For example:
What do you do if the volume on the stereo is too loud? You turn it down, right? Well our brain does that same thing when it adjusts to the overwhelming surges of dopamine (and other neurotransmitters) sent from abusing drugs consistently over time.
So here’s what happens:
To compensate for these dopamine & endorphin surges from drugs your brain begins to automatically produce less and less dopamine, serotonin, GABA, endorphins and feel good brain chemicals.
This severe loss of dopamine in your body can create and cause many painful opioid withdrawal symptoms including depression. And it’s why when you stop using drugs your brain’s naturally occurring neurotransmitter levels (serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, acetylcholine, GABA) are LIKELY FAR below normal healthy levels.
Because opioids and all drugs pretty much destroy your body and brain’s production of it’s own natural feel good chemicals.
This creates a neurotransmitter imbalance or chemical deficiency and depending on how bad the deficiency is it can cause a wide range of physical, mental and emotional health symptoms that can last a long time, especially if not treated correctly.
When your neurotransmitters are low or imbalanced, like they almost always are after drug addiction, you will likely feel flat, lifeless, depressed, nervous, anxious, stressed and unable to enjoy the things that use to bring you pleasure and joy in life. Opiate and drug users almost always have chemical imbalances that affect your mood and mental health.
Behavior like this is a common sign of a neurotransmitter deficiency or imbalance. And the longer you’ve used drugs for the greater the imbalance or deficiency may be.
Dopamine deficiencies can cause fatigue, memory lose, depression, addiction, personality disorders, chronic fatigue, panic.
Serotonin deficiencies can cause constipation, nausea, blues, insomnia, addiction, depression, learning disabilities, thought confusion.
Acetycholine deficiencies can cause anxiety, stress, learning difficulties, agitation, mood swings, memory lapses, attention problems, diminished comprehension.
GABA deficiencies can cause insomnia, sleep disorders, muscle pain, muscle tension, stomach cramps, high anxiety, inability to think clearly, headache, hypertension.
Learning the hard way, costly mistakes taught me that you don’t have to suffer from this imbalance forever, because there are natural supplements and ways to raise deficiencies.
Keep reading to learn natural ways to increase endorphins and other natural feel good chemicals.
There are Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Amino Acids for Replenishing Neurotransmitter Production
One of the easiest ways to release brain chemicals is by taking herbal supplements that have shown in studies to naturally boost dopamine, serotonin or other brain chemicals. There are many natural ingredients that are researched, tested and proven effective at releasing endorphins in the brain and body.
These little-known vitamins, minerals and supplements are an excellent way to ensure a steady supply of nutrients needed for production of neurotransmitters to boost biochemical levels.
How to Replenish Serotonin?
Serotonin supplements can affect your sleep, body temperature, sexual behavior, your pain sensations and much more. It’s also a contributor in feelings like happiness and well-being. Here’s a few herbal supplements for increasing serotonin levels.
5-HTP (hydroxyryptopan) – 5-HTP is the precursor to serotonin and helps your brain manufacture more serotonin. It is also the precursor for melatonin, the hormone involved in sleep patterns of the human body.
It works in the way that it helps the body to produce serotonin. 5-HTP is effectively used today for many ailments including weight loss, treating depression, fibromyalgia, migraines and it is said that it helps in treating Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, down syndrome, alcoholism, opiate withdrawal, PMS and menopausal symptoms and many other symptoms we face.
It’s thought to improve mood, help you sleep, and instill feelings of relaxation and calmness.
St. Johns Wort – St. John’s Wort is a natural anti-depressant herb that is commonly used for its positive neurological effects on mood and attitude.
How to Replenish Dopamine?
Dopamine boosting supplements are important after addiction because these levels are directly impacted by prolonged opiate abuse.
Mucuna Pruriens (extract) – A deficiency of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain can result in depression, sadness, lack of focus and low motivation. Fortunately if these levels are low, mucuna pruriens can help rebuild depleted neurotransmitters norepinephrine and boost dopamine. This improves mood and makes more chemical messengers that act in the brain to produce mental alertness and energy. Mucuna Pruriens can rapidly replenish depleted dopamine stores.
L-Tyrosine – This is another ingredient well known for its abilities to naturally help rebuild dopamine.
How to Replenish GABA?
GABA boosting supplements can help you calm the brain and keep you on even keel. They also reduce stress, ease anxiety and promote sleep.
GABA – Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid, or GABA is an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain – in the central nervous system. As a supplement GABA is commercially sold as a natural tranquilizer for the neurotransmitter effects. In other words, GABA is used to help people relax, calm down, relieve anxiety and sleep.
Glutamine – Helps decrease symptoms of anxiety, relieve muscle spasms, muscle tension
Melatonin – Melatonin is a hormone that helps controls sleep functions and awake sleep cycles.
B-Complex Vitamins – Produces a calming, relaxing effect by activating GABA and cyclic adenosine monophosphate.
L-Theanine – Helps you keep a calm and relaxed state without making you fall asleep.
How to Replenish Acetylcholine?
Acetylcholine is responsible for thinking functions, such as comprehension of language, intelligence, and attention.
Phosphatidylserine – An impressive volume of research shows that phosphatidylserine, another modified amino acid, benefits acetylcholine deficiency. Recommended for memory disorders and depression.
N-acetyl-cysteine – an amino acid that helps detoxify many chemicals and is a strong antioxidant.
Huperzine-A – Preserves acetylcholine, which helps neurons process memory without losing speed.
How to Replenish Endorphins?
Work out, lift weights, go for walks, get outside!
Here’s a few more excellent additional ways to release endorphins naturally after drug addiction. These may provide you with natural dopamine for your improved health.
You can help replenish needed neurotransmitters by eating the right foods.