“ A man who gives into temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later.” CS Lewis.
Summary: The first time we experience a drug or alcohol high, the amount of chemical we ingest often exceeds by an order of magnitude the levels of naturally occurring neurotransmitters in our bodies. No matter how brief, that experience is stored in our motivation and memory — in the amygdala and hippocampus. Getting drunk with your friends, getting high on a ski-lift, removing the undergarments of a sexual partner for the first time — all initially flood the brain with dopamine alongside a picture memory of the event linked to the body’s pleasurable response to it. We then look forward to doing the same thing again because we want to repeat that “feeling.” But in a modern stimuli-laden culture, this process is easily hijacked. After each upward spike, dopamine levels again recede, eventually to below the baseline. The subsequent spike doesn’t go quite as high as the one before it. Over time, the “rush” becomes smaller, and the neurotransmitter crash that follows becomes steeper. The brain has been fooled into “thinking” that achieving that high is equivalent to survival (even more so than with food or sex which actually do contribute to individual and species survival). This process keeps the “consume” light on. With extensive use of modern drugs and stimuli, the brain eventually is forced to turn on a self-defense mechanism, reducing the endogenous production of feel-good neurotransmitters and hormones. Now the
Powered by FlippingBook