Biochemistry Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

How is dopamine involved in addiction?

Expert Answers info

pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write35,413 answers

starTop subjects are History, Literature, and Social Sciences

Dopamine is a neutrotransmitter -- a kind of chemical that transmits information from neuron to neuron.

When a person takes some kinds of addictive drugs, like cocaine or heroin, the drugs affect the way that dopamine is produced or the way that it is taken up.  In either case, the use of the drugs causes there to be excess dopamine levels in the body.

This is important because the body appears to use dopamine to alert itself as to what is important.  It surges when we are hungry and smell food and it surges when we sense danger.  If dopamine levels are increased by drug use, the increased dopamine levels tell us we need the drug.

Thus, dopamine production is at the base of the biological process of addiction.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial