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YouthSpeaksOut! is a monthly program hosted by high schools students in Mendocino County, California. This show was on "Getting High- Beyond Drugs" Call-ins to describe how to get high without drugs. 60 minutes
We have done several shows on how marijuana and alcohol affect the adolescent brain. The release of dopamine is one of the favored parts of the marijuana high. But we release dopamine at numerous other times and feel high from it. The question is "What releases your dopamine?" The hosts will talk about their activities that pleasure their brains, and then ask the community to join in and share their methods for releasing dopamine. Please listen and join in if you can, this Sunday at 3pm.
INTRO- Our recent programs have covered the affects that marijuana and alcohol have on the adolescent brain. One of the facts we learned from Ralph Cantor's presentations was that much of the pleasure that comes from ingesting cannabis is due to a release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine belongs to a class of chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which are chemicals used by the brain in transmitting signals. Dopamine is known as the "feel good" neurotransmitter and is responsible for feelings of happiness and pleasure. Dopamine influences sleep, mood, attention, working memory, cognition, and motivation.
Dopamine acts in particular areas of the brain to mediate the sensation of pleasure from rewarding activities like eating, sex, dancing, going to a great concert, heart-pounding workouts, and some spiritual practices. When dopamine is released as a result of cannabis or other substances the effects are more intense and longer lasting. Because dopamine normally functions in learning, attention and motivation, the amplified signal strongly links drug-taking and pleasure, producing a strong drive to repeat the experience.
The side-effects of cannabis can include confusion, memory loss, fear, and energy depletion. As the effect of cannabis wears off there may be a natural desire to ingest some more, release some more dopamine and start over again. One of Ralph Cantor's points was that adolescents who regularly use cannabis do not develop other ways to achieve happiness and pleasure- it is easy to just take another toke. And the adolescent brain is developing patterns of how to experience pleasure and happiness, and these connections will be retained for life. So not finding out how to get high without substances can be a real impediment for the adult.
Since the beginning of time, humans have enjoyed getting high. Beyond taking consciousness-altering substances, most people have activities that make them high. Some of these activities involve physical exertion- like dancing, running, sports, working out, and sex. Some people get high from mental exertion- like making music, creating art, reading, writing, and concentration. Some people get high from yoga, meditation, praying, video games, fasting, and raising livestock. Seriously, the range of activities that give people sensations of happiness and pleasure are vast.
There are also dietary ways to increasing dopamine levels. Dopamine is synthesized from the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine. Eating foods rich in these amino acids helps the body make more dopamine. These include protein and dairy-rich foods such as cottage cheese, chicken, turkey, lean red meat, milk, yogurt and low-fat cheeses of all types. Also B-complex vitamins encourage dopamine synthesis.
Exercising 30 minutes a day will increase dopamine levels. You could take a brisk walk or jog daily to encourage the brain to produce dopamine naturally. Another way is to get a massage. The power of touch stimulates dopamine production. Even less formal "touching" such as an affectionate hug temporarily raises dopamine levels. Get more hugs and massages to naturally increase dopamine levels.
What we would like to talk about today is what we do that brings us pleasure and happiness. And we want much of today's program to include you, the listening audience, to call in and share what activities you do to experience pleasure and happiness. What makes you high, what gets your dopamine flowing? And how did you discover this source of pleasure? If we share these tools for happiness, especially ones that are inexpensive and have few side-effects, maybe we can create a higher community.
So let's begin by going around and having each host describe which activities lead them to feel centered, happy, and not distracted. And let's explain how we discovered this pursuit and what the physical and emotional state is like. Kelsey, what do you do that makes you "high"?
So now we invite you, the listening audience, to add to the ideas presented here today. We are open to your questions, comments and insights. We are in the Willits studio and our phone number is 707 456-9991
Our question to the listening audience is "What makes you high"?
What activities have you found that give you a strong sense of pleasure? Beyond drugs. Beyond sex.
Do you read or write books? Do you do yoga? How does a massage make you feel?
Do you participate in sports? Have you run a marathon? How does a long strenuous workout affect your mood?
Is cooking or eating a great pleasure for you? Do certain foods affect your pleasure centers? Do you ever fast? How does that alter your consciousness?
Does a mental challenge give you pleasure? Do you play crossword puzzles or video games? Does learning new information make you high?
Do you pray or engage in other spiritual practices? What mental changes do you sense when involved in a religious experience?
Do you dance? Do you do aerobics, zumba, or move in a crowd to your favorite band?
Does your lifestyle bring you pleasure? Constructing buildings? Raising animals? Gardening?
The phone number is 456-9991. When you call, please be ready to turn down your radio or we'll get a very confusing echo. The number is 456-9991. Please call and share with the group what you do that gives you pleasure, makes you happy, and centers your being.