Episode 415 – Dopamine


Today we have Jorie, she is 31, from Westford, VT and took her last drink on 9/19/2020


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[02:01] Highlights from Paul:


We hear a lot about dopamine in recovery.  All humans have dopamine, but our dopamine systems all work differently.  It is the chemical that drives us eat, find warmth, shelter, find a mate and is also known as the pleasure molecule.


Living in a world of abundance rather than scarcity finds us with an overwhelming number of dopamine-triggering stimuli for nearly all of us in one way or another.  Many of us reached the point in our drinking where we no longer drank to feel good but drank just to feel normal.  This is all tied to dopamine and how it is processed by the body.  Dopamine is important to keep us going, but we must find healthier ways to get it.


Check out the book Dopamine Nation by Anna Lembke, it is a great read on the topic.


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[09:14] introduces Jorie:


Jorie is 31 and was born in raised in Vermont.  She enjoys running, playing hockey and loves to write which she says helps her stay in the present moment. She’s an athletic trainer at a local school, runs her own business and supervises sporting events. She is also part of a co-ed hockey league in her spare time.


Jorie didn’t start drinking until after college. Her parents divorced when she was young. Her father had a drinking problem, but her mother did not drink.  She was never interested in drinking, she worked hard in school and played sports, so it didn’t fit into her lifestyle. She was in a long-term relationship since she was 18 and they got married when she was 27.


The pandemic really opened her eyes to her relationship with alcohol.  She realized how uncomfortable it made her to think about alcohol not being an option to cope with things. Jorie and her brother challenged one another to quit drinking over the summer of 2020 and they almost made it three weeks. That experiment helped her to further review her drinking and she started realizing that she really tried to avoid being uncomfortable for a long time. She began reading books associated with recovery and discovered Recovery Elevator where she listened to other people’s stories and recognized that we don’t have to hit rock bottom to question our drinking.


When she quit drinking, she initially felt a lot of anxiety and fear. She felt guilt that she craved alcohol, she felt shame for listening to podcasts for hours.  She wants to live her best life and realizes that alcohol will impede that. Jorie does not want to see a rock bottom and is focusing on her growth in sobriety. She feels stronger in her job and in her relationships and really thrives on focusing on the present.

For Jorie, recovery takes effort and continued learning is important.


[46:49] Paul’s outro:


In the book Dopamine Nation Dr Anna Lembke talks about a 30 day dopamine fast. It isn’t always that easy, but it is necessary to help us heal. Over time and with work, we can live a life without the temptations to the dopamine system.


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