Tuesday, January 24, 2017

1/24/17 (Tues) Hyperactive Dopamine Response

Image result for alcohol addiction and dopamine

I was reading an article last night about alcohol addiction and dopamine.  I could totally relate. It talked about how some people have an extreme dopamine reaction to alcohol and how it can be a precursor to addiction.  I have always known that alcoholic makes me extremely hyper and social.  I have always been the one to want to get drunk and go roller skating or find a park to go swing on a swing set or jump a fence and go swimming or play some crazy drinking game. I never want to just sit around and drink.  I experience hyper mania when I drink and to be honest it is pretty damn fun. I am the life of the party, keep it going and create a lot of fun around me. If I am being honest, I really do enjoy myself in that state (although the older I get the more embarrassing it can be the next morning).  I think that is the feeling I am constantly chasing even though it isn't as much fun as it used to be.  I guess I'm not all that different from the heroine addicts on Intervention. They always talking about chasing that initial high but never being able to get it back no matter how much they use.

The article also talked about what happens to your brain when you have a hypo manic response to alcohol.  It talked about your brain having a countering response to that. Since alcohol is causing your dopamine levels to be out of control, your brain sends out another chemical that drastically reduces your natural production of dopamine - kind of a defense mechanism.  This shutting down of natural dopamine production can last for days - which totally explains why I feel like total crap for days after I have only 4 drinks.  I think it would be safe to guess that the longer you mess around with these neurotransmitters in the brain by chemically altering them with alcohol, the more messed up they get. This could explain why I have a hard time just getting pleasure and enjoyment out of non drinking weekends and everything seem so boring and depressing.

Maybe my physical brain needs time to repair those systems and relearn how to find pleasure in in my weekends without chemically inducing dopamine levels.  I think I really do have a physical addiction to alcohol in my brain.  It helps me rationalize remaining sober when I admit the fact that I really am wired differently than normal drinkers. I suspect I have a genetic disposition as I have always been way more hyper when drinking than my friends. But I have also exacerbated the problem from years of weekend binge drinking that has created an extreme opposite effect of the extreme drop in dopamine levels following drinking.  I inherited the gene and the damage is done. No turning back. My brain is permanently allergic to alcohol - it just can;t process it like a normal person.  It can't handle it no matter how hard I try.  It is like a person who is has lost their sight trying to learn to see again.  The damage is done and it is irreversible. I just can't drink like other people and I need to accept it.


  1. Step one is admitting we are powerless over alcohol and our life has become unmanageable.

    I feel like I "do" step one every day. The way for me to regain my power is to not add alcohol. So I don't. And, as a result, my life is extremely manageable.

    Somehow it all becomes simpler when we stop the debate and reasoning and searching for answers and just accept that this is it. In the same way I will never eat gluten again because I have celiac disease, I will never drink again.

    This isn't an easy thing. I mourned the loss of some of my favourite foods and I mourned he loss of party Anne. I expected life to be bland and boring. I was resigned to it.

    Imagine my surprise when colour returned! Mornings became easier. Life became less complicated. I could see past my own self focus and remembered there was a whole world out there!

    Joy returned. I hadnt know joy for a long time. A drink or 5 never brought joy. And I know it never will.


  2. I am with Anne again!
    She writes the best comments!
    I was a hyper drinker too.
    I could clean more, was funnier, and all of that stuff.
    Until I wasn't.
    When I got older, body started to be unable to process the alcohol and as you are finding, I was feeling horrible after just 3 drinks.
    Reading is good, but as Anne said, at some point you just have to stop.
    I grieved the loss of party Wendy, too.
    But then I decided to prove to myself I could still have fun sober.
    And I am!

  3. you sound like me, trying to outhink the situation... we just can't drink. that's it.

  4. I know this post is a year and a half old, but I'm having a really hard time right now and I just wanted to say that I'm in the same boat. Alcohol was like speed for me. It made me feel happy and social and just blissfully unafraid; all the things I'm not naturally. It made me feel normal, or at least what appeared normal to me. I had energy, felt revitalized, could talk to anyone and the voice in my head telling me I'm pathetic and an embarrassment just stopped for those few hours and I could connect with other people in a way that was unbearably uncomfortable for me sober. But those feelings went away as I entered my late twenties and when I drank I started to become unhinged, dangerously reckless and later on even violent. My last drink was on the night of May 14th 2017 and in those first months it was wonderful. I think they call that the "honeymoon phase" of sobriety. When that ended some months later I realized I don't even know who I am now. Nothing gives me any joy or pleasure. Things I thought I enjoyed or was passionate about either terrify me or ellicit no emotional response whatsoever. I'm afraid to be in public. I have panic attacks if I have to answer a phone at work. I've isolated myself from my friends and my family. And I think the cause is what you described in your post. I've permanently altered my brain in such a way that it just doesn't produce the reward chemicals on its own anymore. At least not enough to stave off the crippling anxiety and depression I'd been hiding from. Nothing excites me. Nothing moves me. I'm just a ghost now. And I don't know what to do or if it'll ever stop.