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disease

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Jan 16

January 27, 2016

Dopamine: “The Anticipation Molecule”

By Peter R. Coleman, MD

For a long time, it has been known that dopamine is the pleasure molecule. After all, it is common knowledge that a large amount of dopamine is released in the nucleus accumbens area of the brain when we do pleasurable things – like eat food and have sex. When the dopamine is released, we experience a strong sensation of pleasure and, of course, we are likely to want to repeat that experience. We also know that all addictive drugs release massive amounts of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens – way more dopamine than we humans were ever meant to experience. This heightened pleasure sensation is the biggest reason why people use addictive drugs.

But now, more light is being shed on just how complex are our brains and how different parts of the brain interact. Scientists are now also calling dopamine “the anticipation molecule” because it has been shown that dopamine is also released in large amounts when we anticipate a pleasurable experience. We actually release dopamine in the nucleus accumbens and get a sensation of pleasure by just thinking about having one of these experiences. Actually, just thinking about having a pleasurable experience is not quite enough to release a lot of dopamine. The large amount of dopamine is released when two things happen – we both think about the pleasurable experience and there is a realistic opportunity that we will be able to have the pleasurable experience – true anticipation.

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Sobriety

4

Jan 16

January 4, 2016

6 Ways to Keep your Resolution for Sobriety

By Gabriella Pinto-Coelho

For those struggling with an addiction to alcohol or another substance, the end of the year can be a challenging time. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s can bring up old temptations and triggers that can make your goal for sobriety seem out of reach. But now that the overindulgent holidays are past us, we can focus on the possibilities of the New Year that lies ahead.

Approximately 40% of Americans make resolutions, viewing the New Year as a fresh start, a symbolic transition. While setting resolutions can be a great way to get clear and motivated about your goals, only 40% of those who make resolutions actually go on to keep them. This 60% failure to keep a resolution can stem from a variety of things – unrealistic expectations, lack of discipline, loss of motivation, or something else. I personally think that some of the trouble with keeping resolutions lies in our cultural “all-or-nothing” attitude when it comes to resolutions. For example, say you have a friend who has made a resolution to eat healthier. But on a snow day in February, she eats 10 cookies.

Sadly, many people would throw in the towel at this point, thinking, “Today I went completely against my resolution, so I guess it’s over now.” In reality, keeping a resolution involves a less-than-perfect path. You might have days when you slip-up and others when you feel on top of the world. Doesn’t that sound a lot like the road to recovery? The point is, don’t give up on your resolutions when the going gets tough or when you take a few steps back. That’s life.

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