Welcome to Dopamine Dialogue! A place for addiction/recovery conversation…

Why the name Dopamine Dialogue?

Dopamine: the neurochemical (the chemical in our brain) that is responsible for pleasure or “high”. This is the chemical that is released in the brain with any pleasurable activity. Much of this site is devoted to educating about how addiction impacts the brain and dopamine plays a major role.

Dialogue: “A conversational exchange between two or more people.”

This site is meant to be a place where people can converse about addiction, get answers, express ideas, post examples of how addiction and/or recovery impacted their life or the lives of others, or simply lurk and soak in information.

I’d love it if you would join in on this conversation with me…


  1. Addiction can be arrested by abstinence from all drug use. Opiate addicts in particular have found methadone particularly useful in this regard. Abstinence, I feel, is only 20% of recovery. The rest is reassembling your life; getting “normal” supportive friends and social circles, pursing a career or furthering education, and becoming 100% responsible for our own choices. So people that have stopped using drugs and think they’re “recovered” are very mistaken, and have a long,exciting way to go. That’s why its important to have an experienced support friend(s) to supply much-needed guidance along the way. One of the hardest things when beginning recovery is that you have no idea what you’re doing as we are used to running our own show.

    • Tom,

      I agree with your statement 100%, with one exception. Methadone is a highly addictive drug – and those who take it are not practicing abstinence. They are practicing “replacement therapy” – meaning they are replacing their drug with another drug. In my opinion, this is only successful when it is carefully monitored by an addiction specialist who has every intention of tapering the person down to nothing at some point in the near future. Instead, what often happens is patients have their doses of Methadone increased. They also have the ability earn take-home doses. For the person sincerely wanting to stop using who is also working a good program…this may be okay. But, for the most part, treating addiction with addictive drugs does not work out too well – unless, again, it is monitored closely by an addiction specialist and the patient is also highly motivated to become abstinent eventually. In my experience, Methadone still “activates the disease” in addicts and they end up either abusing the methadone or selling it on the street for what they really want. Methadone clinics in many parts of the country are not monitored well at all, so what you end up with is “legal drug-dealing”. The doctors want to prescribe methadone and make the money from the clinics and the patients want the drug. So there’s no incentive to do the right thing. We’ve got a long way to go with it…if you ask me.

  2. Hi ,
    I am a volunteer at a community drug project
    (drop in and psychosocial groups etc), just
    Thought I would say how impressive this site/blog is, in fact I am going to pass this on
    To new referrals ( service users) , in order that
    Some understanding of the illness can be grasped alongside their process to hopefully one day recovery.
    Thank you and well done

    • Thanks! I appreciate that. I hope your clients/participants find it helpful.

  3. Learning for a friend. This has been sooooo helpful. Thank you.
    New to this “blog” thing though. Don’t know how to do it.

    • Le,

      You are doing just fine! Glad you’ve found it helpful! Please feel free to post any comments or questions any time.


      • Can you describe how dopamine is depleted due to opiate addiction? Can the brain ever begin producing its own dopamine again? Is this a part of PAWS?

  4. Le,

    A lot of the answers to your questions can be found on the site already, but I will sum it up briefly for you.

    When you use an outside source of opiate, your brain stops producing it’s own natural opiate (we all have natural opiates in our brain that help us cope with pain). This same thing happens with dopamine as well. Because your brain recognizes that there is too much of these chemicals, it stops natural production to self-regulate. So, when a person who has been relying on an outside source of dopamine and opiate (in substance form) stops using the outside substance the brain takes time to readjust (about 90 days to jump-start the healing process). This means that for a period of time the person will have depleted levels of dopamine and opiate in the brain (along with other neurochemicals that were affected by the use). So, with these depleted levels will come perceived pain and a lack of ability to feel pleasure (so, depression). So, yes, the lack of dopamine and opiate will lead to the withdrawal symptoms experienced with PAWS (post-acute withdrawal symptoms). “Post-acute” means the period of time immediately following last use. So, this means the person will more intensely feel things like: all-over body aches, flu-like symptoms, perceived pain, depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, etc. early on in their recovery process and over time these symptoms should get better, as long as they don’t reintroduce the substance in the brain again and the person starts to do things to help them recover as well. Remember that withdrawal will be the opposite of what was experienced while using the substance. Opiates don’t magically go to the source of the pain and relieve it, they work on the brain. When they use, they feel a sense well-being and increased energy. So, in withdrawal, the person will likely feel achy/uncomfortable, depressed, and lack motivation along with low energy/fatigue.

    This is why it is really tough to determine what is actual pain and what is withdrawal-related pain for a person who has been over-using opiates. There is no real way to get an accurate assessment unless the person stays off of opiates for a long period. To get a realistic/accurate assessment the person would likely need to be off of opiates for a long-enough period for the brain to readjust to “normal” opiate levels (and dopamine levels). The problem is that getting this amount of time without use is really challenging because most people who have been over-using opiates really struggle with abstinence because the withdrawal symptoms are so challenging for them and they lack adequate support and resources. So, to prevent overdose and try to help ease the symptoms, there are medications (such as suboxone or methadone) that — when prescribed and monitored appropriately — CAN be helpful for those who are really motivated to work on their recovery and who understand that addiction is a disease and recovery is a life-long process. However, these options aren’t appropriate for everyone and each person’s situation is different, so it would be very helpful for people seeking help from opiate use disorder to speak to an addiction professional to weigh what their best options might be.


  5. THANK YOU DD! This is the best site I’ve found. I have a degree in BioChem, but never saw the other side of the fence. Sad and scary. This is very informative. Thanks!

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