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Alcoholic Spouse Troubles? His Dopamine Highs are Causing Your Lows

Posted Feb 02 2010 12:59pm

Let me guess. It is getting harder and harder to get along with your alcoholic spouse as his/her alcohol problem is getting progressively worse. You don’t even understand how he/she has gotten this far into alcohol addiction. Why?

Here is one reason:

A new study out of Denmark and Japan has shown that dopamine levels (a chemical in the brain are higher in the brain of people that have a tendency toward addiction). Also, they are less sensitive to dopamine effects. In other words, they need more stimulation (in your husband’s case, more alcohol), to get the same effect as someone with normal levels of dopamine.

(For additional help with an alcoholic spouse, please click here to get my free report on the 5 Most Effective Ways to Turn Your Marriage Around to an Alcoholic Spouse).

What does the higher dopamine levels of your alcoholic spouse mean to you? His/her brain is not the same as your brain. Here are 3 ways a brain of someone with an alcohol problem is different:

  • His/her brain is preoccupied with obtaining dopamine. He is planning how to get his “dopamine” stimulated, while you are thinking about your relationship with him/her, your children, and your work.
  • The main pleasure your alcoholic spouse now feels is related to the “dopamine reward pathway” in his brain. In other words, if he/she wants to experience pleasure, he/she will drink a lot of alcohol ( to increase dopamine).
  • His/her brain has actually shrunk from the physical effects of alcohol and it makes  learning and using rational thinking more difficult  (including learning to live without alcohol).

Therefore, if your alcoholic spouse ever blames his drinking on you, you can tell him, “you had higher dopamine levels in your brain before we ever met!”. All kidding aside, your alcoholic spouse may have some genetic/biochemical factors that predispose him/her to drinking excessively. However, your alcoholic husband or alcoholic wife is still responsible to get help for his/her alcoholism addiction in order to get clean and sober.


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