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Dopamine may Help People with Drug Addictions


Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have succeeded in creating a model of the way the brain releases dopamine, an important chemical involved in transmitting signals between nerve cells.

What Dopamine Does

Dopamine is involved in a number of processes that control the way we behave. If an action results in the substance (dopamine) being released, we are more likely to repeat the action. This is where drug addictions come in. Dopamine is a “feel good” hormone that the brain releases when certain activities such as drug abuse release the dopamine people get an extra high. If the brain does not release enough dopamine naturally without the assistance of drugs the individual is more likely to continue and increase the amount of the drugs they are abusing.

The Signal

If an action (drug abuse) leads to a better response than expected, the brain will temporarily release more dopamine. If the response is worse than expected, the brain momentarily stops releasing dopamine. This mechanism is responsible for our tendency to repeat actions that have given us a high level of dopamine, and to avoid those that result in lower dopamine levels.

If researchers and scientists are able to find a way to increase the dopamine in drug, abusers they may not need the drug to get the same response they get by using drugs. The model is in the early stages and clinical trials are still a little ways off.