We've all experienced them - the high from a work out, from great sex, from a delicious meal. Our brains have been designed to reward us with feel good feelings when we move and fuel our bodies. But it wasn't until I read Dr. Gabor Mate's explanation of the naming of these fun chemicals (In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, pg. 151) that I started to really understand the appeal of drugs.
Endorphins are a reward - one of the most acceptable instances in popular culture is the "runners' high." I'm too lazy for that and prefer the "cupcake with buttercream icing high." It's less talked about, but probably as common.
Also in In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts Dr. Maté provides the following comparisons list for endorphin and its related dopamine-enhancing activities (pg. 145):
- Planning a great meal (or, in my case, buying a cupcake) - increases dopamine 50%
- Sexual arousal - increases dopamine 100%
- Cocaine - increases dopamine 300%
- Crytal Meth - increases dopamine 1200%
I'm in no way meaning to excuse the addict for their behaviour. I just found this explanation poignant, powerful and relatable. I can barely resist a cupcake ... how much harder must it be to resist the pull of that 6 - 24x more powerful high?