My hunch is that society calls street recreational drugs “dope”, short for dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a messenger, that sends signals to your brain about reward and pleasure. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them. You and I experience dopamine when we are engaged in activities that are rewarding and makes us feel a “natural high.” (e.g. dancing, jogging, making love, laughter, aerobic activity, yoga, creativity, helping others, living in your purpose, learning something new, travel, music, pets, first dates, food, taking a courageous step, etc.) People with low dopamine activity may be more prone to depression and addiction. A “street drug” sends messages to the brain of temporary emotional reward. Peer pressure, job pressure, broken relationships, boredom, lack of faith and low self-esteem can cause us look to outside sources and stimulation to give us the high, the courage, validation and the inspiration we want. The habits of drinking alcohol and coffee, ingesting and smoking drugs, and eating sweets and high fat foods gives us a false and short lived high. Alcohol provides a false courage and a short-lived high followed by the opposite emotions when you’re hung over. Recreational drugs (dope) gives an artificial high followed by the extreme opposite when you’re coming down. Coffee gives you a short rush of energy followed by just the opposite feeling. Sweets give you a jolt of pleasure followed by just the opposite as your body crashes from all the sugar. None of these substances provides a high that you can rely on. And the damage they can cause to your body, psyche, and productivity greatly outweighs the short high not to mention the amount of wasted time in recovery (hangover) afterwards.
For a healthier lifestyle we need natural highs to send messages of pleasure, motivation and emotional reward to our brain. What gives you a natural high? When was the last time you experienced a natural high…feeling in your zone of positive flow? What positive activity have you stopped doing? How is your brain receiving positive messages of emotional reward and pleasure? If you find yourself slipping into depression or poor addictive choices, your brain needs some dope (dopamine). When you experience more natural highs it’s easier to say “no” to the artificial and life destructing highs. Various activities trigger the release of endorphins — hormones in your brain that produce the deep calmness or euphoria known as a natural high. Endorphins counteract your stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, and create a strong sense of well-being.
Natural highs are self-created from within. They are lasting, pure, and they give you greater mental ability, emotional strength, and energy. Alcohol, drugs, sugar, and coffee gradually take these things away.