Your ADHD brain generally has a dopamine shortage
You may seek out dopamine and adrenaline-producing careers, activities, or sports to compensate for the lower flow rate of dopamine your brain experiences.
A natural lack of dopamine could be your superpower because you will create ways to get your brain to manufacture dopamine. The challenge is that you may indulge in risky behaviour to your physical, financial, emotional, and relationship health to get your hit.
First responders like firefighters, police, and emergency personnel get their fix from the intensity and laser focus of the situation.
From my hands-on experience, I unknowingly got my dopamine from tobacco, alcohol, risky relationships, and high-speed driving. As the novelty wore off and my brain reduced the dopamine flow, I started to combine some of these activities, increasing the risk and reward.
I then transferred the risk to my business, escalating the stakes to keep the dopamine flowing. What I couldn’t see at the time, I was on the road to nowhere. I also didn’t know why I was doing it. I honestly thought everyone was on the same merry-go-round.
I am very grateful that I survived the road trip and didn’t kill anyone else along the way.
Addiction is a significant issue in providing dopamine. Drugs, tobacco, alcohol, sweets, and carbohydrates provide intense dopamine rewards. Retrain your brain to get a healthy dopamine hit from something other than these.
Dopamine has been called the pleasure molecule, the reward chemical that makes you feel good. It should be called the novelty molecule. Many studies show that your brain adjusts to the dopamine hit from a repeated pattern by reducing the flow and impact.
As you get used to a new activity, new relationship, new clothes, or a new car, some excitement and pleasure go out of the experience. It is more like a novelty reward chemical—your brain responds more to new experiences than repeated patterns.
You are continually looking for ways to get your natural chemical cocktail and explain your desire for change and distraction.
Your ADHD brain is easily bored and always searching for the next bright shiny object. It’s looking for a chemical hit! You are looking for more novelty and excitement.
The challenge lies in finding positive, non-destructive pathways to achieve it. You have high energy, and when you can’t find a suitable outlet, you can shut down, just like the crash of a computer, leaving you feeling empty and flat. You need to channel your enthusiasm and energy to positively unleash your drive and creativity.
Learn to reward yourself with quality dopamine activities beneficial to you, like exercise, music, learning, reading, being in nature, driving in the country, changing your nutrition, or whatever works for you.
Start with simple small steps that allow you to build up to your significant goals. Create multiple milestones with mini-rewards linked to the effort or actions during the process, not just the final achievement. You must also develop the ability to tap into your dopamine reward system while pursuing your goals.
Devise internal and external sources of motivation and rewards to manage to keep the dopamine flowing. Motivation and willpower are temporary and serve their purpose. Your drive is what will keep you going when inspiration takes a holiday. Your drive comes from your ‘why’ your reason for being.
Some people have been able to train their brains to produce massive amounts of dopamine simply by working towards a goal. That gives them the energy and perseverance needed to do the work to achieve the goal. They link rewards to the process, not just the result.
It is due to a brain mechanism that ensures the dopamine released from the “expectancy of the reward” is greater than the reward. Because the PFC and dopamine centres of the brain are linked via the mesocortical pathway, how you think about a particular task impacts how much dopamine is released and affects how motivated you are to complete that task.
How can you program your brain to produce more dopamine, motivating you to do more? Set milestones with predetermined mini-rewards throughout the process.
Add a splash of surprise. Dopamine release is increased when the reward is uncertain. When a reward occurs 50% of the time rather than 100% of the time, dopamine release is greater.
Your dopamine levels impact motivation, focus, mood, happiness, executive function, memory, time management, motor skills, and balance. Low dopamine levels reduce energy and attention.
Sleep is vital in balancing dopamine production. Find natural dopamine foods and activities. Stress and fear reduce dopamine production.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter it floods the striatal system, a critical component of the motor and reward systems. Use your creative mind to find positive ways to supply an abundance of dopamine that will give you more focus, drive and high energy to develop the life you want and can achieve.