The Addictive Brain: Who is in Control?

“Why can’t you just stop it at once?” I hope I have the answer.
“Why can’t you see what your drinking is causing you?” the query I often asked my son when he was still around only to find out that neither I knew why.
“Why do I keep doing the things that will eventually lead me to trouble?”
“What is wrong with my brain?” I’m sure the problem lies in here since it controls everything I thought.
Going back to the same destructive patterns over and over again is damn exhausting. But it pains so good. The struggle is real, the monster is here and it keeps coming back draining every bit of my being. Until I became sick and tired of being sick and tired.


In my attempt to understand the wiring of my brain I came across several scientific pieces of literature showing the link between addictive behavior genes and neurotransmitter. Several studies found out that low level of dopamine (a neurotransmitter) can make an individual highly vulnerable to substance abuse and aberrant behavior.


It does not disregard the fact that vulnerability to addiction and aberrant behaviors differs from person to person. Both environmental (home, family, nutrition, availability of drugs, stress, and peer pressure in school, early use and method of administration) and genetic factors can influence the risk. Genetic factors account for between 40% to 60% of a person’s vulnerability to addiction, (especially alcoholism) including the effects of environment on gene expression and function.


The relationship between low dopamine function and addictive and compulsive behaviors paves the way to defining addiction as a brain disorder involving impairments in the so-called “reward-circuitry.” This fact is coupled with the understanding that dopamine functions in the brain to provide a feeling of pleasure and promotes general well-being and happiness. (Blum et al. 2000, 2012)


When there is a deficit in dopamine the body will compensate by boosting the dopamine function, a biological process to maintain homeostasis. And it can be achieved temporarily by using alcohol, drugs, food, smoking, sex, gaming and behaviors that create a pseudo feeling of well-being.


Researchers also found out that there are individual (like me, I guess!) who are genetically at risk for this lack of dopamine, the carrier of the DRD2 A1 form (leave it to the scientist!!!) They also found out that there are some 50 forms of genes like what they called the God gene (VMAT2) which are highly associated with spirituality and significantly influential in an individual’s ability to achieve a state of peace and happiness. Wooh!!!


But there is nothing new about that. We carry with us the genes of God ever since before scientist made a discovery. Roman 8:9 says “God’s spirit lives in you.” People who believe in God and completely rely on Him for the things they cannot do finds great comfort and satisfaction in life, they need not any dopamine boost.


My conclusion is that my brain does not control everything, God is. Those things I cannot do, He can. The pain I am going through from the destructive behavior I keep doing to myself can only be managed by the help of God within me one day at a time.


His grace is sufficient everyday and He is in control of my body’s chemistry and my life in general. I just have to do my part which is keeping the faith and doing the right thing. It is the most natural dopamine booster I can always shoot with no destructive side effect.




A reminder to everyone suffering from an endless cycle of destruction.



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