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How to Naturally Increase Dopamine and Serotonin Depleted By Opioid Abuse.

Opiates-Brain-Mind-Effect

Opiates effect your brain’s natural chemical levels

By: Reilly Johnson

American Society of Addiction Medicine says…

“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 and related brain structures than it is about the external chemicals or behavior that “turn on” that reward circuitry.”

If you’ve used opiates for longer than a few weeks – there’s a good chance you’re lacking in natural “feel good” brain chemicals.

Your body and brain naturally create chemicals called neurotransmitters. Your brains four primary neurotransmitters are dopamine, serotonin, GABA, acetylcholine. Your body also produces chemicals called endorphins, which are the bodies own opiates and they are released under extreme pain. Below are the primary functions of your brain’s neurotransmitters.

    • Serotonin regulates sleep and appetite
    • Dopamine is the feel good chemical, plays an important role in mood, energy, attitude, motivation.
    • GABA acts as your calming neurotransmitter, helping you relax
    • Acetylcholine for processing information and memory

It’s important you understand EXACTLY what is happening in your BRAIN when you use drugs. Take a look at the picture below.

Opioid Abuse Effect on Dopamine

Opioid Abuse Effects on Dopamine In Brain

What do you do if the volume on the stereo is too loud? Turn it down, right? Well our brain does that same thing when it adjusts to the overwhelming surges of dopamine (and other neurotransmitters) sent as result of opiates or other drugs.

Drugs release 2 to 10 times the amount of dopamine that natural rewards do.

Your brain responds to these surges from drugs by automatically producing less and less natural dopamine. So when you stop using drugs – your brain’s naturally occurring ”feel good” neurotransmitters, (namely serotonin and dopamine) are wayyyy below their normal levels. As a result you may feel flat, lifeless, depressed, nervous, anxious, queasy – unable to enjoy the things that use to bring you pleasure.

One common example of this is people who used to love going out on the weekends with friends and have a good time… after years of opiate abuse… they now prefer to stay in on weekends and watch TV at home. Relationships with people are often abandoned during addiction, and for no better reason than not wanting to go out.

Behavior like this is a common sign of a neurotransmitter deficiency or imbalance. Fortunately… there are number of natural ways to bring serotonin and dopamine levels back up after opioid abuse.

Dopamine, Serotonin and Endorphins: Simple ways to naturally increase these feel good mood-enhancers: 

    • MUSIC – Music is powerful and can move you emotionally. When you’re coming off opiates you’re body probably feels like it’s thawing out. Your bodies probably more sensitive to touch and sound. Good music can absolutely help your mood and get those brain chemicals working again. Try and listen to mostly upbeat music.
    • MEDITATION – Meditation helps the nervous system operate at its best; when done properly this produces optimum levels of serotonin and endorphins. If you’re interested in learning meditation without all the hard work, check out Holosync here.
    • LAUGHTER – Watch a good comedy movie or have a laugh with friends to release endorphins.
    • SUNLIGHT – bright light increases the production of Serotonin in the body. Spending time in the sunlight can absolutely improve your mood and also soothe muscle aches. Tanning beds can be helpful if no sun is shinning.
    • SEX – is a powerful producer of endorphins. A long session can dramatically increase endorphins. When you’re in withdrawal sex can be a very nice escape.
    • ACUPUNCTURE – acupuncture increases circulation and stimulates the release of endorphins. If you haven’t looked into acupuncture while in withdrawal – you might want to try it out, it can be VERY helpful during healing.
    • MASSAGE – stimulates the release of endorphins. Massaging your own scalp and shower massager’s can provide an affordable alternative to expensive treatments. Massage therapy can feel wonderful.
    • HERBS/SUPPLEMENTSSt John’s Wort, 5-HTP and L Tyrosine all can increase serotonin, dopamine and in the brain. Thus easing withdrawal symptoms and shortening withdrawal duration.
    • EXERCISE – is one of the best natural ways to produce both serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. Vigorous exercise is best because the stronger the physical demand you place on your body, the greater the release of endorphins. You should try weight training and high and low intensity exercises. Work out as long as you can.

chocolateYou can also increase serotonin by eating the right foods, including: 

    • Eat carbohydrate rich meals and lots of vegetables. Healthy choices include whole grain breads, whole grain pasta, rice, brocolli, spinach lettuce, etc. Eating fat processed foods will do the opposite. Eat better and improve how you feel. (now to contradict myself)
    • Eat sweet foods like chocolate, only a couple squares of good quality chocolate with a high percentage of Cocoa in it can raise these chemicals.
    • Serotonin is naturally occurring in foods like pineapples, bananas, nuts and plums.
    • Get an adequate supply of B vitamins, folic acid and vitamin C because these vitamins play a role in transmitting brain chemicals.
    • Spicy foods like Chile’s, peppers and jalapenos. The heat triggers the release of endorphins, so the spicier the better.

Improving serotonin, dopamine and endorphins levels are important for shortening and recovering quickly from opioid withdrawal symptoms. So remember laughing, eating chocolate, getting a massage can release feel good brain chemicals and help you feel better, faster. Be sure to add these activities to your withdrawal recovery game plan.

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16 Comments

  • thanks for the tips i was on suboxone for three months after opiod abuse now have 9 days completley clean no suboxone. i will use your tips to try and increase my energy level.So far thats been the hardest part , music defenitly helps alot , sleeping a little tough still but i feel a little better everyday. I am never going back .

    sincerely steve b .

  • Reilly Johnson

    Thanks Steve, those first few days are the worst. If you’ve done 9 days so far keep the course! You’ve already done your hardest time.

  • I’m not abusing opiates, but I am prescribed Norco twice a day, as a long term solution to my physical pain. (fused left ankle, pins, plates, crutches, bad knees and so on). At first, the Norco was great, it seemed to help boost my energy since I wasn’t feeling the pain. I have been on the pain killers over a year, and for the last month or so, I have just been back to feeling like crap. No energy, no ambition, no happiness, super anxious. I’m going to drastically reduce my opioid use to when I absolutely NEED it, and try to increase my intake of foods to help boost my dopamine levels. I’m tired of balancing feeling lethargic, and being in pain.

  • Really loved the Al Pacino Speech! Thanks for that!
    Long story – me :) not sure about my “deal” …However, thanks for this site! Its nice having a place to go and learn more about this issue!

  • I want to say first that having other peoples perspective on going thru withdrawal make u feel like this disease or addiction worth beating I myself have had a past of opiate abuse since the first time I took a pain killer and I’m only 22 years old.but mainly for the past two years I have been taking dilauded 8 mg. Daily. At first to get high and sooner or later just to feel normal. I have decided to finally say goodbye to drugs for good I myself cannot do recreational. I’m on day 6 of quitting CT. The worst is behind me now.most all of the physical pains and lethargy are gone. Its the anxiety thats getting to me can’t sleep one bit. But I’m starting to feel better everyday. The best way to beat this is to put yourself somewhere where u can’t get anything even if u try. Go stay with someone who’s far enough away from your connections for opiates. So u have absolutely no way. But make sure the person or family knows what your plan is so they can be there to help you threw this nightmare bad choice of words but it’s not pretty. Its nothing to be embarrassed about if your willing to quit opiates and want to be sober they should be understanding and happy you made this choice. Going threw this alone will not be easy and relapse is hard to avoid if ur alone. Everybody. Thanks for the advice it helps just have to have a strong mindset the whole time. Once u go threw the worst of detox and start feeling better it gets better.

    • Reilly Johnson

      Matt,

      Great advice here, you said it best.

      “The best way to beat this is to put yourself somewhere where u can’t get anything even if u try. Go stay with someone who’s far enough away from your connections for opiates. So u have absolutely no way.”

      Thanks for the comment and keep it up.

      • man it is so true. I got arrested and by that I time I had graduated to H. My husband had the money to get me out, but I made him leave me there for 5 whole days. I am on day 7 today and it is still the hardest thing ever. I can not sleep at all. any advice?

        • Reilly Johnson

          Hi Caitlin,

          There’s a lot of natural herbs and over the counter things that can help you sleep. Think valerian root, taurine, 5-htp, phenibut (which you can buy here). As far as OTC things look to Benedryl, nighttime sleep formula’s, things like that. Stay strong and keep going, if you’re on day 7 you’re almost there!

  • This is day four for me quitting my addiction to pain killers and morphine. I am 24 and have been using for 4 years or more. I honestly can’t remember when I started. I know my addiction intensified when my mother died and left my original home to live in an apartment by myself (family issues). I’ve decided to quit because I feel like I am wasting my potential in life and am holding myself back doing the things I want and used to love to do. At first I took them to get high and feel happy but anymore I would just take them to feel normal. It hasn’t been easy. I don’t feel like eating much, I’m tired all of the time, and have had diarrhea for almost a week now. Nothing is interesting. Everything is dull and I feel lifeless. I hope I start to feel better next week. I am determined to stop though. I’ve done a lot of things I regret doing due to my addiction and the guilt and shame is what brought me to my decision. I want to be a better person and be my old self again. I will use these tips to break out of this. Thanks

  • I was on dilaudid 16mg for three years of my life. After I had surgery tgey put me on even higher doses of opiates, it’s taken me three months to kick, but I’m finally clean. Unfortunately it feels like my brain is incapable if joy. I occassionally have a spark, but I just can’t get it to stay on.

  • hey my name is Michael and I have been on opiates on off since I was 14 injury after injury I’m a semi pro bodybuilderit seems like everytime I would get to the my best point in life I would get an injury and doctors I so good at prescribing pain meds at some point I was on 300 milligrams of oxy contin a day sometimes higher dosages 200 milligrams of oxycodone I’m 42 years old and I’ve had enough of this s*** enough of the doctors that put you on the s*** today I got the Kratom phenibut vitamin c d b probioticsanime going to pick up some of that sammyas well asSt John’s wort I’m all done with these opiates I don’t care what kind of pain I’m in I just broke my hand in three spots didn’t ask for any pain meds they destroy your life They will take everything from you including your freedom either in an institution or in your own home you’ll be a prisoner either wayour doctors the drug dealers factso tomorrow will be day one I have oxy contin left but no desire to touch it I started with the kratom and the other supplements I bought and I ain’t never looking back this site has been so helpful I can’t thank you enough for putting the site togetherand I will succeed and everyone else out there that is disappointing and really wants it was also succeed just a Stand Strong I’ve been through hell in the past but I already feel better than I did this morningI can sell the supplements will work and again how you a lot of things for this websitE reillythank you so much for all you do for everybody you will be truly blessed for this

  • sorry for the typos talking into this phone shoulda read the stuff first my bad sorry take care everyone and the best of luck to everyone trying to get off opiateswe can all do it

  • Green tea almonds and peppers. Walk walk walk. Music is helpful up beat n dance around. I craved sun light so I kno it has to b something I need. Eat lots of veggies n fruits mostly watermelon n canalope !! Fresh cut lemon water will help u detox ur liver drink tons of it!! Alkaline foods are a must. Take bakin soda baths and drink a bit of bakin soda water!!! This can b done all natural. And is the best way to do it. Pray pray pray. Speak out loud health over your self for there is power in words.

  • Hi. I’ve watched my son try time and time again to get clean from heroin. Your tips are great, but the problem for the addicts I know is caring enough about themselves to even read something like this, let alone implementing it. I’m not knocking what you’re saying at all. Just saying its so much more complicated than choosing to stop and take these steps.

    • Reilly Johnson

      There’s no doubt about that Barbara, it’s not easy. Withdrawal and addiction are hard habits to break. The point is to keep trying and to do whatever you can to help end addiction. Ever heard of the principal of the slight edge? Improve 1% each day and in 1 year you’ll be 365% better! Remember small hinges swing big doors.


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