The Dopamine Junkie Diary


Been avoiding coffee for the past few days, due to what it seemed to be the never-ending-painfully root canal treatment. My body seemed to search cravings in other places, missing the substance that spiked up the dopamine level.

Maybe it was magic or maybe it was the umami and sweet palate of my tongue that suggested salmon sashimi over and over in my mind.

Raw and delicate, I am yearning to go to my favourite japanese restaurant and being greeted with “Yashimashi..!”. It is surely not in the best interest for those who just got back from visiting a cruel dentist, to chew sushi and whipped by its wasabi.

Tried to distract the salmon cravings,and half-way succeeded, suddenly lost to an iced-cinnamon coffee with honey.

I guess old habits die-hard.

Although the ice coffee didn’t always suit the standard of a sweet tooth-such as myself, I considered the caffeine boost a certain reward of dopamine. It exonerates from the cluster of receptors in the brain.
For those who are not quite familiar with Dopamine, you might only associate it with the “comfort hormone”, or something like it.

The Living Legend of Hormones

Not only us, animals and plants are lucky enough to have it synthesized on their body. We, humans, have it produced on our brain and kidneys releasing it as a neurotransmitter.  It swims from presynaptic neurons to the post-synaptic in order to drives you toward something, addictive.

As the messenger of good news, dopamine also famous for its molecules of pleasure, causing addictive behavior if taken several times continuously. Not only drugs, sexual activity, and alcohol, sugar can induced dopamine. Taking a significant role in the reward system of our neurons.

The reward system is a group of neural structures responsible for incentive salience (i.e., motivation and “wanting”, desire, or craving for a reward), associative learning (primarily positive reinforcement and classical conditioning), and positively-valenced emotions, particularly ones which involve pleasure as a core component (e.g., joy, euphoria and ecstasy) -Wikipedia.

The exquisite sweet and savory salmon sashimi, working its way up to the central nervous in our cerebral cortex. Come as a result from processing four kinds of taste in our tongue receptors ; bitter,salty,umami and sweet, and in this fishy case, salmon signaling everything but bitter (almost similar to my life).

The reward came in a form of contented feelings and joy. This explains why I select food with not much of bold choices,clearly a safe player that knows her addiction.

Occasionally, as exotic and tantalizing a medium-rare rib eye, I am more compelled in devouring an open tuna sandwich with its rich and fresh side salad. A smooth hint of caffeine and cacao aroma, in a hot french earl-grey chocolate with rose.

a shot of sugar

This endless spiral of squeezing the dopamine juice doesn’t stop there.

Reflexology can curl up beneath the ache and sore of both my feet after a hard-freestyle swimming. It is inevitable to say, a good masseuse is hard to find.

When you do find one, it is in these manipulation of touches that provided millions of dopamine shootings to the reward pathway in your brain. Sparking that tremendous feeling, equal to a mother’s long warm hug.

What is that reward thing anyway?

A sip of chewy glutinous rice balls with crushed sweet peanut filling plunged in a warm gingery tonic as a dessert (called: wedang ronde).

wedang ronde                                                      Source image: LINE TODAY,15.23, 11/10/2017

As the gooey and sweet balls mushed inside your mouth. Sending warm fuzzy feelings, all over your body. When actually it’s the brain that performs the dopamine trick. Dopamine creates pathways sending neurotransmitted-happiness. The same reason of why you’ve been anticipating for weeks of that specific brand clearance sale. Pursuing dopamine reward in a form of retail therapy.

That’s the answer why sometimes you buy things you don’t really need.

Although I am not one who is often elated on a shopping spree.

In street drugs, amphetamine known by the name sabu, or speed, or ice, as well as medications like Adderall that used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder, increases the release of dopamine by 1000 percent. One hit of meth pipe is equal to ten orgasm. –Anna Lembke. MD from the book Dopamine : Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence.

Personally, I prefer love.

Because then dopamine can be accompanied by his friends, such as Oxytocin in a hug, Adrenaline when love reciprocates and a pinch of Cortisol when they finally partnered and nag you every day.

Author: Fraya

A writer and entrepreneur with profound interest in humankind research and insights. An avid coffee drinker and book hoarder. Hours and days spent in Jakarta.


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