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Addicts, for instance, crave drugs even after years of abstinence because addictive substances hijack the dopamine system and change it permanently.
When exposed to addictive substances like cocaine, heroin, alcohol, nicotine and even sugar, neurons are releasing more dopamine, and also growing more receptors for a transmitter that makes them release the dopamine. It is a permanent physical change.
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The closest we can come to hold on to pleasure is in music. It is a tension-and-release kind of thing that can keep you going for a long time, waxing and waning, desiring and enjoying.
The best way of resisting is not to linger over the temptation, but to decide to move away from it, as witnessed in the marshmallow tests.
Something as simple as dropping your keys once will fire dopamine neurons. But, if you drop them a few more times, the neurons will get bored and stop taking notice.
In 1986, a discovery was made that dopamine did not produce pleasure, but in fact, desire. While dopamine makes us want, pleasure comes from opioids and endocannabinoids ( a kind of marijuana produced in the brain), which paints pleasure on good experiences.
Our brains can also become sensitized to prompts. The Pavlovian conditioning was used on rats to link a particular cue to cocaine or sugar. The rats ended up desiring the cue more than the drug. The same may apply when checking our phones.
The reward system in our brain exists to ensure we seek out what we need. If eating nutritious food or being smiled at pleases us, we try to secure more of these stimuli. However, seeking pleasure can also result in people becoming addicted, indebted or overweight.
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