Surprising Facts: 4 Areas of the Brain That Are Related to Reward-Seeking Found in Addiction

Surprising Facts: 4 Areas of the Brain That Are Related to Reward-Seeking Found in Addiction

In the addiction recovery realm, we often talk about dopamine as being a central component to the reward-seeking behavior that can develop. Dopamine is a natural chemical in the brain that is released when something pleasurable happens (such as with food, sex, shopping, and more). The chemicals in many substances causes an influx of dopamine to become released, and the body stores the memory of just how pleasurable a certain event was. Over time, it begins to crave it – and that’s when the seeds of addiction are beginning to sprout. If you’ve read up on some addiction recovery information, you’ve probably heard of dopamine, and maybe even the role of the hippocampus (the region of the brain that stores memories), but there are likely a few other regions you had no idea were part of our reward-seeking behaviors.

Just last year, National Geographic published an intriguing piece about the science of addiction and how it occurs within the brain and body. Several “pathways to cravings” were listed and described – which all are interconnected and linked to dopamine to take us to that point of craving.

1. Ventral Tegmental Area (TVA) – this is where dopamine is produced and leaves as it flows outward through the brain’s reward system.

2. Dorsal Striatum – in this area, neurons help identify patterns of pleasure, such as when a person buys drugs.

3. Prefrontal Cortex – amino acid glutamate is produced here, and it works alongside dopamine to produce visuals that give people those cravings.

4. Amygdala – neurons located in this region of the brain become stimulated when memories, cravings, and pleasure are experienced.

The more we learn about how the brain works in response to addiction, the more strategies and measures we can take to prevent it. Some people also find it helpful to learn about what their body physically goes through when addiction is involved, as it tends to break things down and place the experience in a much more scientific perspective.

The mission of The Beach House is to provide success in the recovery process and elevate the standard of comprehensive addiction treatment. Located right on the coast of Malibu, California, expert clinical care and a holistic view of the recovery process is provided to ensure Best-in-Class treatment tailored to the needs of each client. To start your recovery journey today, call us at 310-924-0780.

Kimberly James

I am the founder and owner of The Beach House Treatment Center, The White House, Indigo Ranch, Sweetwater Mesa and Beach House Center for Wellness, all in Malibu, California.