How to Naturally Increase Dopamine and Serotonin Depleted By Opioid Abuse

By: Reilly Johnson

One of the biggest reasons people fail in addiction says the American Society of Addiction Medicine…

“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.”

Opiates effect your brain’s natural chemical levels

If you’ve used opiates for longer than a few weeks then there is a good chance you’re lacking in natural “feel good” brain chemicals and neurotransmitters. Your brain’s primary four neurotransmitters are dopamine, serotonin, GABA, acetylcholine.

The right question is, what do they do for you? [list type=”bullet”]

  • 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
  • Endorphins are feel good chemicals our bodies release under extreme pain. They are considered the bodies own opiates.[/list]

When opioids, heroin and other prescription pain medicine are abuese these neurotransmitters get disrupted greatly, one crucially important point is,


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


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? You would 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 opiate and drug use.

Your brain begins to automatically produce less natural dopamine to compensate for the surges of artificial dopamine being released from opiates and drugs.

What that means is that when you stop using drugs your brain’s naturally occurring “feel good” neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine) will be well below normal healthy levels.

As a result you may feel flat, lifeless, depressed, nervous, anxious, queasy and unable to enjoy things that use to bring you pleasure.

Behavior like this is a common sign of a neurotransmitter deficiency or imbalance. This deficiency often appears during and after opiate abuse especially if used for a long time. Some costly mistakes in my experience have taught me that you won’t have to suffer from this imbalance forever, because there are natural ways to raise depleted resources and nutritional deficiencies.

3 Powerful Natural Supplements that Rebuild and Replenish Dopamine and Serotonin Levels Depleted After Opioid Addiction

nuerotransmitters in the brain

One of the very best ways to increase your brains neurotransmitter levels is to use supplements. There are a variety of natural ingredients that have been shown to aid in narcotic withdrawal symptom relief.

Certain supplements and ingredients can help you rebuild dopamine, serotonin and endorphin levels. These chemicals are critical in helping determine mood and motivation. Some Supplements that can help are:

#1 – Mucuna Pruriens (extract) – A deficiency of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain can result in depression, sadness, lack of focus and low motivation. Can help rebuild neurotransmitters norepinephrine and 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. 

#2 – 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 can improve mood, help you sleep, and instill feelings of relaxation and calmness. 

#3 – GABA – In a healthy, well-nourished person, the brain produces sufficient amounts of GABA and supplementation may not be needed. However, since many people abuse opiates and other drugs, eat poor diets and are over-exposed to environmental toxins, GABA levels can easily fall below optimum amounts. Low GABA levels are associated with a range of problems, including anxiety, depression, irritability and sleeplessness.



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9 Natural Ways to Rebuild Neurotransmitter Systems in Your Body and Brain

[list type=”tick”]

  • 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. [/list]


How to Naturally Increase Your Serotonin and Dopamine Levels through the Food You Eat

You can increase critical neurotransmitters in the brain by eating the right foods, these include: [list type=”arrow”]

  • 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 (sparingly), 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.
  • Weight bearing activity builds dopamine and releases endorphins. Try lifting weights or doing a difficult workout, many begin to feel very good and amped up.[/list]

At Last, 23 Nutrients in 3 Supplements For Support of Your Mind, Body and Emotions

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22 thoughts on “How to Naturally Increase Dopamine and Serotonin Depleted By Opioid Abuse”

  1. 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 .

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

    1. Reilly Johnson


      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.

      1. 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?

        1. Reilly Johnson
          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!

        2. Honestly …if u are truly done you will know i have been an opiate abuser for near 7 years mostly methadone which has evil withdrawal..i did switch to opana till methadone was outa my system…prefer shorter more intense than drawn out methadone wds…
 on day 7 and the whole time ive had a bottle if methadone on the nighstand..didnt touch any and honedtly with a few over the counter meds and the mind set of not wanting to bea slave to chemicles anymore made the withdrawal easy i was scared it was gonna come on real bad outa nowhere really just lost appetite and sleep …
          Only..u will know when ure trulyready remember no pain or cost is to great to own oneself

          1. Reilly Johnson
            Reilly Johnson

            Thanks for the comment Jeremy. You’re right, switching to an opiate that doesn’t have as long of a half life as methadone is smart. Everything I’ve heard is cold turkeying methadone is it’s incredibly difficult and tapering off or switching to something else is the way to do it. Congratulations on getting through it!

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. Hi my name is Paul. I’m 36 I started taking opeite pain meds about 5 years ago roughly. Due to pancreatitis through alcohol abuse, my doctor had put me on coedeine phosphate and told me stop drinking so I did. Then within a few months I can remember going back to my doctor because they weren’t helping anymore. He then had to put me on DF118s and they helped for a few years though I felt very depressed on them and felt suicidle. Anyway I ended up turning to herion and had a £100-£150 habit a day in no time (Belfast street price) To fund the habit I was still out selling Double glazing and getting deposits of customers for work my brothers had to do. I moved into a flat to isolate myself from my wife and kids. I wasn’t eating when using and looked like shit my wife became absolutley distracted and worried for my life because believe I was dying. Then she turned up in June 2013 an asked me to go rehab in England she had borrowed the money I jumped at the chance and went next day to the treatment centre it wasn’t what I expected I thought I was going to a closed in rehab how wrong was I it had about 6 houses that were shared all at least 1/2 hour walk to the centre. And having to walk every morning while detoxing to the centre was far from easy. I managed to get clean and come home a much healthier man, but still had stomach pain I went to my doctor again and was put back on opiates I haven’t went back to herion but felt I was going that direction again. So I decided to go cold turkey I’m 13 days off all opiates and feeling a lot better and stomach pains away. Hope I’m making sense it’s a vicious circle we need more and more and sometimes you have to feel like shit to make us understand what we are doing to not only ourselfs but our loved ones to.

    1. Reilly Johnson
      Reilly Johnson

      Paul, thank you for sharing your story and great job making it to day 13! You are almost there my friend. The one thing I’d keep in mind is what alternative methods can you use to deal with your pain? And 2, how will you replace the time you spent getting, doing and feeling from opiates? A lot of people quit and they realize theres a void that they are not sure how to fill. So be sure to develop new hobbies and do lots of activities to get your love of live back. Congrats and keep up the good work.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

    1. Reilly Johnson
      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.

  12. Hi- as a well educated college grad with a minor in chemistry, and a work history that includes 9 years of working as an oncology nurse – and then 5 years of working as a detox nurse, a rehab tech and eventually becoming a substance abuse counselor.
    One of the most difficult things to explain to an addict in denial about how they have a disease if the brain … As it’s just as or more difficult to try to make a normie or earthling ( non addicts) understand that addiction and the phrase,” Just quit! ” are never going to work, because quite simply , addiction is a complicated disease. It doesn’t pick and choose it’s victims, although factors in hereditary traits re: addiction are certainly related. One of the main questions I heard over and over as a counselor were from families, wives, husbands, kids, etc….”WHY would the addict keep using after numerous od’s, arrests, social upheaval, basically losing everything…. Only to get a little time clean, to start the cycle over again?”
    This is a good question. But as an addict myself, I feel as though before that question can even begin to be tackled intellectually , medically, spiritually and emotionally , the non addicts need to realize that the addict HAS A DISEASE. Just like diabetes – a newly diagnosed diabetic is told by their endocrinologist that big life changes HAVE TO TAKE PLACE. It is aMUST. If a diabetic doesn’t change their diet, then testing their blood glucose and injecting insulin is kind of a moot point. I use this analogy because it’s an easy one to understand. And it makes the normie more empathetic of the addict and why they do the things they do. If the newly diagnosed diabetic broke their strict exchange diet and are lazy about testing their glucose, they can end up in a diabetic coma or keto acidosis… Either way, Asa society , no matter how worried we may be about this diabetic not following directions on the huge life changes they’ve been ordered to make- families may be scared, frustrated or disappointed that the patient isn’t taking care of themselves. But when an addict is told what they need to do to stay clean and that addict ends up using- Asa society, family members and friends do NOT TREAT THE ADDICT LIKE THE LAZY DIABETIC. It somehow becomes a moral
    Issue, an issue of how the addict ” can beat this thing”… Or ” keep fighting”.. By the time an addict ends up in detox, or rehab or the methadone clinic- trust me, by the time they arrive “there”, please trust yours truly’s personal experience, then my learned clinical experience- they have tried to quit. They have succeeded. But for a very short time. Opiate addicts will do anything to avoid the sickness- so when I say they have quit and succeeded, I meant just that. Herein lies the problem , in my humble opinion, on how addicts are treated, looked at, misunderstood. QUITTING IS EASY. All junkies have done it a thousand times. It’s STAYING QUIT THAT ELUDES THE ADDICT.
    One of the most important things I try to express to family members trying to understand their addict’s behaviors and thought processes is this- an addict is driven by two things- obsession and compulsion. The constant thoughts if using, our next fix, how to get the $, and then once we have started using- we cannot stop. Even when we know that we have a court date tomorrow and will be drug screened – and we got high the night before anyway. THIS IS THE BEST EXAMPLE OF THE DISEASE OF THE MIND OUT THERE- because nobody with a non addict brain would EVER YAKE SUCH RISKS.
    Another extremely important fact to be aware of is that the drugs are a mere symptom of addiction. Yes, a mere symptom.. What I mean by that is this: Addiction is a disease that has so many facets that layer upon each other, making it very difficult for an addict to see the BIG PICTURE. Quitting drugs , sorry to bust the bubbles of the loved ones of addicts that think that by ” just quitting drugs/ all will be well”. Unfortunately, it does not work that way. At all. Relapse is a part of this disease , and although I’ve read all the up to date numbers and % rates on recovery from addiction, I’m not a ” numbers type”- yes, 90-96% of addicts trying to get clean and stay clean the first 2 or 3 times will use again. Some right out if rehab- some make it 90 days- some make it 6 months or a year. But let me make something crystal clear- the word relapse is misused so often I want to scream. Relapse can only happen after an addict had had SIGNIFIGANT clean time with NO NARCOTICS or ALCOHOL ( which IS A DRUG- a legal, deadly drug) For instance, if an addict goes to a 28 day program- completes the program and manages to stay clean for 4 months- but in that 4 months, the ONLY thing that changed in that addicts life was that they were ABSTINENT. Abstinence does not equal recovery. Only after an addict makes a true decision to “change everything”… And recovery is a process, not an event. Rehab is NOT A CURE. Addiction is a cunning, insidious, sly disease that tells the addict that they do not have a problem/
    When an addict gets clean, it’s like taking a fish out of its bowl and asking it to have decent table manners at dinner time. The fish, for one, feels out if it’s element- because it IS, and it has no coping skills outside of it’s fishbowl. Addicts use drugs to escape/ to cope – to avoid- to deny- to forget….. But after awhile, ALL ADDICTS COME TO THIS HORRIFYING REALIZATION : the $ runs out, the amount it takes an addict to get high after years of use can be really expensive – nobody trusts them, they think NOBODY could possibly understand what they’re going through- they have burned all their bridges, etc…. Addicts don’t always need a reason to get high – it can be to celebrate, to mourn, to wake up, to go to sleep or it could just be because it’s a day that ends with a Y…..
    The earlier in an addicts life that change can be implemented and used properly, the better – we have so many receptors in our brains that eventually don’t do their jobs after years of use. Why take a vitamin if our bodies don’t even have the ability to absorb that nutrient and have it used properly in our bodies.
    Not to be a downer , but addiction isn’t the type of disease we can just pray away or ignore- it always resurfaces, and it will always win unless the addict is TRULY WILLING TO DO SOMETHING OUT OF THEIR COMFORT ZONE- and not have a money back guarantee on this perfect life they envisioned.
    Life shoes up when we put down the dope. It comes fast and real- raw and in your face. But I can tell you this with all the certainty and experience in the world- as scary as giving up dope can be- as afraid of how boring your life will become without drugs ( cuz if the dope don’t kill ya, the lifestyle will) I can promise you one thing. The veil that has been over your face while using. Eventually lifts and you feel the beginnings of getting a small glimpse of that big picture- everyday clean will be different. Yes- DIFFERENT. Try to remember that what a newly clean addict may think of as boredom , may truly be serenity….. The getting and using, and finding ways and means to get more to stay high daily becomes very old very quickly. It’s a miserable job- the people get shadier and every day is the same boring shit- looking for that euphoric recall. That feeling you tried to feel again everyday until you realized that there’s not enough dope in the world to keep us addicts satisfied. One is too many- and a thousand is never enough.

  13. Hello… I’m 32 years old and did opiates for over ten years! I was a functioning addict, hiding it from most… I could never take the steps of putting myself through hell to stop. I did everything from methadone to fentanyl to oxy, roxy, and Opana. They say you end up dead or in jail- for me it was jail, and let me tell you detox in jail is no joke! But it forced me to take the steps I couldn’t take. It’ll be 3 weeks this Thursday and I still don’t feel right- headaches every day, tired, if I’m on my feet they throb for hours and hours, I can’t sleep… The only time I feel normal is in a hot shower… I just can’t wait to feel normal again! For me, I know I’m done. I’ve put my family through so much, and I have a 9 year old daughter that needs me! I almost missed Christmas and her birthday and it killed me, thankfully my family got me out two days before… I’m too thankful for all they’ve done for me and I’m too damn old to be sitting in jail! Learn from me… It isn’t worth it!

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