Dr. Cali Estes - The Addiction Coach ®

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Naturally Increase Dopamine and Serotonin Depleted by Opioid Abuse

Naturally Increase Dopamine and Serotonin Depleted by Opioid Abuse

If you have abused opiates for more than a few weeks, your brain in more than likely depleted of its natural feel good chemicals.  Your body and brain naturally create chemicals called neurotransmitters.  Your brain’s 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. 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 produce 2 to 10 times the level of dopamine in your brain.
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 used 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.

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 body is 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.

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 shining.

SEX – 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 – 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 and dopamine in the brain, thus easing withdrawal symptoms and shortening withdrawal duration.

EXERCISE – exercise is one of the best natural ways to produce 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.

You 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, broccoli, 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 chili 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, or 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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  1. Spinal Adjustments also release mass quantities of “feel good hormones” When we detox molecules of our drug of choice remain attached to micro-receptors (alleles) on the spinal cord. These receptors are normally occupied with our feel good hormones, that’s their purpose. It takes 3-4 weeks WITH spinal adjustments to “wash” away drug of choice It takes 6-12 months without spinal adjustments. It takes me about 2 min. with a person In early recovery to get their spine adjusted. (I know the limited free time while In rehab…been there.) Without adjustments, when the drug of choice molecules began to detach from these receptors there Is not anything there to take their spot, so their “hungry” hence Increase in relapse and cravings.Mass quantities of these hormones also release after a 1 or more mile run, don’t know many doing that tho In early recovery.We have all experienced the “high” after a workout, same thIng.So a complicated process happens quickly, like starting your car, all systems get up and running just by turning a key. When I come to your Rehab Center, sober home, IOP, I see everyone there, I do NOT accept payment from those In early recovery, If they have Insurance I file, If they don’t I see them also, everyone that’s want’s this gets this regardless of their ability to pay. I do NOT get paid by you, your rehab Center or any other means. I pay YOU for my time there at your facility. I rent temporary space from you as a Independent contractor. I have all the state required documents filed with all the people who need documents. I’m listed as preferred provider with all major Ins co licensed to practice In hospitals and have from time to time. I give back to the Recovery Community. Personally I like those with direct contact, Sober Homes, securing a Recovery Coach, IOP Immediate needs food clothing and shelter, securing a job clothes for the new job or any Immediate and pressing need at hand requiring financial assistance. Thanks. Dr Randy T the above is a very brief description why dopamine and serratonin are extremely important in early recovery. I would be happy to forward the more in depth study and current research should you desire.