The New Drug Epidemic

We have a major drug epidemic in the world right now.

No, it’s not opioids. (Although this is a major problem)

It’s not crack

It’s not meth

It’s not weed. 

In fact, you can’t even buy this drug on the streets.  

Why?  Because you produce it inside your own body. 

It is Dopamine.

The world is completely addicted to dopamine and not enough people are talking about it.

Dopamine is today what crack was in the 80s.

Before we go any further you may ask, “What is dopamine?”

Dopamine is a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain.  It’s a chemical that your body produces in the hypothalamus that sends messages from one brain cell to another.  Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that controls how we feel pleasure.  If you do something pleasurable, dopamine is released.  

You might think, “isn’t this a good thing?”

Yes, most of the time.  But the problem is that we get way too much of it.  Whereas our ancestors got a shot of dopamine when they got the kill or accomplished something physical, our modern brains have learned to get it from artificial things.  It used to be the reward center for doing the things we needed to do as men to survive.  Now it’s used as a quick hit to feel better.

We get a rush of dopamine when we do something we like, and like any drug, we want more. When you repeat a particular behavior that releases dopamine, your brain actually creates new “neural pathways” to get you there faster.  It creates a shortcut.  Eventually, you need more and more dopamine to receive the same feeling of pleasure. 

This is what causes addiction.  Your brain literally rewires itself to demand whatever stimulus gives you that dopamine release. 

This is what I like to call the “Dopamine Delivery System” 

The Dopamine Delivery System is whatever you use to get your rush of dopamine on demand. If you’re like me, your dopamine delivery system is porn.  Porn gives you a HUGE rush of dopamine and a host of other hormones.  It makes you feel good, so you want to do it over and over.  

For many men, they learned this at a young age.  They discovered that anytime they faced something negative in life, they could go to porn and get a big dump of dopamine to make themselves feel better or to escape.

It becomes self-medication.  Instead of dealing with whatever emotional wound is causing the problem, you go to porn to give you a shortcut to feeling better through the dopamine release.

The addiction becomes to the dopamine release, not to the porn itself.  

The porn is just the dopamine delivery system.  

But like any drug, you eventually build up a tolerance.  You need more and more dopamine to achieve the same effect.  

Here’s where the difference between drug addiction and porn delivered dopamine addiction comes in.  With addictions such as alcohol and hard drugs, you simply crave more.  But with porn addiction, you crave different.  An alcoholic just pounds more and more vodka.  But a porn addict doesn’t watch the same video over and over again.  He’s constantly looking for something different; something new and novel.  This is why porn addiction often escalates into for fetish style porn and eventually into webcams, hookups, etc.

But porn is not the only dopamine delivery system modern men are addicted to.  Many are addicted to the ping of a new text message and the little red notification icon next to your Twitter or Facebook app. You’re addicted to one more episode to Netflix.  You’re addicted to the dopamine from winning your video game.  You’re addicted to the feeling good food gives you.  

All these things drop huge amounts of dopamine and leave us wanting more and more and more.

Modern society has created the idea that we must have a screen in front of us at all times.  

Because of this, we’ve become addicted to the dopamine release that they give us.  Wherever it’s porn, video games, social media, Netflix, or something else, we constantly crave more and more to make us feel good and relax.

It creates this vicious cycle of needing dopamine to feel better, getting a huge rush of it, then coming down off the high, (or in the case of porn, feeling shame) then needing it once more to feel better again.

What does this addictive cycle cause?

Isolation, Lethargy, Apathy, Depression, and more.  You get so hooked on the dopamine that normal life doesn’t do it for you anymore.

This is why men who watch a lot of porn end up with erectile dysfunction.  They’ve trained their brains to only respond to the stimuli that release dopamine.  Eventually, a real woman doesn’t get them aroused anymore.

It’s the same with the other dopamine delivery systems.  You get so hooked on the artificial dopamine stimuli, that real-life stimuli no longer excite you such as going out with friends, accomplishing goals, and doing things that you used to enjoy.

So how do we fix it?  

You need to rewire your brain and remove or drastically reduce those dopamine delivery systems from your life.  Once you spend time away from the dopamine stimuli, you’ll learn your mind becomes clearer, you start to enjoy life again and you get excited about things you enjoy.

I recommend taking a tech sabbath each week.  Dedicate one whole day to avoiding all electronics and “screens”.  I call mine “Screenless Sunday.”  I’ve found I connect better with my family, I accomplish much more, and I’m much less likely to be tempted.

Modern society has become all about consuming, consuming, consuming; so much so that men everywhere are overwhelmingly addicted to dopamine.  

It’s an epidemic that is getting worse and it’s having devastating effects on our society and our health.

You must learn to control your dopamine, or it will control you.

It’s time we fought back against this growing drug epidemic.  

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Published by Timothy Reigle

I’m Timothy Reigle, the founder of Into The Wilderness Ministries. After overcoming a fifteen year addiction to porn and sex, I have made it my life’s mission to help other men break free from the bonds of addiction. As an author, coach, and chaplain, I work with men to transform their lives by renewing their faith, re-energizing their families, and restoring their masculinity.

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