Dopamine: Why It's So Hard to "Just Say No"
One of the main reasons is called dopamine. Research on the brain indicates that addiction is about powerful memories, and recovery is a slow process in which the influence of those memories is diminished. Both addictive drugs and highly pleasurable or intense experiences (such as a life or death thrill, a crime, or an orgasm) trigger the release of the brain chemical dopamine, which in turn creates a reward circuit in the brain. This circuit registers that intense experience as "important" and creates lasting memories of it as a pleasurable experience. Dopamine changes the brain on a cellular level, commanding the brain to "do it again," which heightens the possibility of relapse even long after the behavior (or drug) has