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Neuroadaptation: tolerance build up.

We’ve all experienced a degree of craving in the aftermath of pleasure in some form: chocolate, shopping, drinking, video games or something else even less obvious.

When we get a dopamine hit it’s natural to try and recreate good feelings, or try not to let them fade away.

The simple solution we perceive is to keep doing what made us feel good, but therein lies quite a fundamental issue. With repeated exposure to the same or similar stimulus, the initial deviation to the side of pleasure gets shorter and weaker, and the after response to the side of pain gets longer and stronger.

This is a process called neuroadaptation, aka tolerance. Tolerance is an major factor in the development in addiction.

The repetition of behaviour or use means our gremlins (trying to balance out our dopamine spikes with pain) get bigger, faster and they multiply. As a result, we need more of our ‘drug of choice’ to get the same effect.

The repeated experience never quite measures up to the first, and we are left with a deeper sense of dissatisfaction and stronger desire to recreate the initial highs. In turn, this can lead us to seek out newer, more potent forms of the same or different drug or behaviour to satiate our needs.