Author Topic: Figuring out dopamine levels  (Read 2636 times)

Offline Griffin (OP)

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Figuring out dopamine levels
« on: February 27, 2016, 12:32:58 PM »
I was wondering if there was a way to figure out how much dopamine is in someones system and if that would give you an idea of how high someone is? Would dopamine be the right thing to test for? Is that what is produced when you take opiates? I was wondering about it earlier thinking about my brother. I have always thought that he had a much higher level of natural endorphins and dopamine than me. He naturally had some of the symptoms I get from using opiates, like being able to sleep whenever, being content, easily getting angry, and other things.

Can we test for shit like this? Is there a way to tell how high someone is by measuring the actual things going on inside our bodies that make us high? Like instead of testing for how much dope is in your system they test for how much dopamine or how much endorphins are being produced in your system? Does that make sense? I have always wondered if some people have opiate taking levels of endorphins and dopamine going on without taking anything and that people who have less than normal get addicted easier as they feel normal after taking it.

Would they be able to tell how much of the drugs in your system are producing a high? Kind of like how tolerance works say someone with a huge tolerance has a ton of dope in their system, but they are just now getting to normal and out of withdrawal even though the amount of drugs in their system looks astronomical. When in reality someone who took their first opiate might be extremely high with very little of the drug in their body? Do our tests show this at all or do they simply say this person has x amount of drugs in his system.

Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I just wonder if we can test for chemical imbalances and see if someone has a chemical imbalance. I think it'd be nice if we could tell what levels of chemicals or whatever in the brain are normal or if it can show if they are high or how high they are, and if certain drugs brings them to a normal level or anything like that. What would you need to test for to figure something like that out? dopamine, adrenaline, endorphins, heart rate, drug levels or is this impossible?


Offline DreamerOnTheRun

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Re: Figuring out dopamine levels
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2016, 01:50:14 PM »
I've actually wondered the same thing, as I always said you would think if it's possible they would regularly test psych patients dealing with depression for levels.  There's people WAY more knowledgeable than me when it comes to bio-chemistry on here so I'm interested to hear what they say.  Pretty sure serotonin & oxytocin levels are also relevant.
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Offline Chip

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Re: Figuring out dopamine levels
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2016, 06:11:40 PM »
dopamine levels are also of great importance to stimulant users. I have read that it takes 10 days after a session on stimulants to normalize.

DOTR is correct as there are other neurotransmitters in play as well, not to mention endorphin levels for opiate users.

if only we were equiped with better indicators ...
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Offline Benz

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Re: Figuring out dopamine levels
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2016, 01:58:00 AM »
baseline dopamine levels obviously vary widely person to person. Levels can be checked but you'd need a neurologist to take blood.

Even opiates utilise dopamine to produce their euphoria. Almost all psychoactive drugs that are worth taking have an effect on the dopamine system. Anyone who's taken coke IV or smoked the freebase knows the strength of a sudden, rapid rise in it.

Most people I can think of with naturally high dopamine levels don't bother with drugs much & have high self confidence & general happiness. That said, you can manipulate your own levels with exercise, sex & the company of people you have a laugh with.

Alternatively, Velvet Bean (Mucuna Pruriens) contains safe levels of levodopa, a direct precursor to dopamine. I've been curious. Does anyone have any experience with this?

Offline Roman Totale

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Re: Figuring out dopamine levels
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2016, 02:09:34 AM »
Dopamine is definitely a big part of stimulant highs, I'll grant that.  But even taking other neurotransmitters into consideration, there is a whole lot unexplained about addiction, mood, etc. as far as I can tell. 

When SSRIs came on the scene in the late 80s, serotonin just became the watchword for depression.  And I won't go looking for the primary source at the moment, but I swear I remember reading about a study conducted where non-depressed individuals had their serotonin levels artificially suppressed with a SERT antagonist for some period of time, and they did not become depressed as a result.

As much value as there is in neuroscience, I worry about the trend of reducing the human psyche to a few easily-understood neurological transmitters or pathways.  Kind of like how the disease model of addiction has been very valuable, but has also had some pernicious effects on the popular understanding of drug use, abuse, and dependence.

Offline Benz

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Re: Figuring out dopamine levels
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2016, 02:09:51 AM »
I would consider dopamine & oxytocin levels way more important in a depressed person. The serotonin theory on depression is clearly not a great indicator of mood level.

I have NEVER met anyone on SSRIs who is happy. The papers on them show they have the same efficacy as placebos in treating depression. They're a big pharma rip off. As Roman stated, mood & addiction are far more complex than one or two neurotransmitter systems.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2016, 02:13:13 AM by Benz »

Offline Jega

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Re: Figuring out dopamine levels
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2016, 02:10:02 AM »
I just had a genetic test. The results are for more complicated to put in this reply. All I got that matters to us really are my CYP2D6 and CYP34A are normal, plus a bunch of drugs that might interact with me. No Opiates or Benzos. Nothing on my dopamine levels.

Could a complete blood count (CBC) find out? It's been a while since I've seen one but I bet I could dig an old one out if no one else knowns.

Offline Chip

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Re: Figuring out dopamine levels
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2016, 03:04:49 AM »
baseline dopamine levels obviously vary widely person to person. Levels can be checked but you'd need a neurologist to take blood.

Even opiates utilise dopamine to produce their euphoria. Almost all psychoactive drugs that are worth taking have an effect on the dopamine system. Anyone who's taken coke IV or smoked the freebase knows the strength of a sudden, rapid rise in it.
{snip}

once i discovered that about opiates and dopamine, i now can detect when my dopamine levels increase with opiates, so too with seratonin levels like when i take MDMA, however elevating seratonin levels by other drugs, i cannot detect.

can you guys differentiate between low and high dopamine levels with your "sixth sense (suggested to be the "sense" of one's self)" ?
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Offline Griffin (OP)

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Re: Figuring out dopamine levels
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2016, 01:58:39 PM »
Thanks for all the replies everyone! keep the info coming it is very informational. RT, I am glad you found us and started posting almost everyone of your posts I have learned something new from, and you are very good at explaining things that are complex. I really like what you said about using a few things to look into the psyche as it is so vast and complex it would be impossible to say this one thing has this direct effect on everyone.

I think the use of SSRIs and most anti-depressants is scary, I think messing with anyones brain chemistry can be very dangerous. At least with opiates it is from a natural source that has had centuries of use so it isn't as scary. I think everyone being put on meds so they can become a tv family and never feel sad, or not have energy is causing a huge problem. I think it is creating more depression and anxiety. Just the way we now think of taking a pill for everything has probably had a profound effect on us.

We like to think that no one should feel any emotions, you shouldn't have anxiety, get depressed, have low energy, or not be able to sleep. You must take a pill for all of these instead of dealing with the cause of the problem. I think using pills as a crutch allows us to not have to cope with anything. Most of my depression is circumstantial, when people die, i lose my job, get arrested, or whatever I get really depressed.

Maybe more depressed than the average person would get but using meds to deal with it is making us lose all our coping skills, and reliant on pills for everything. My death and dying class taught me that we are terrible at coping with death, just about everything we do is counter-productive and makes things worse. We don't like to talk about death at all, or anything that relates to it, and when someone dies you mourn for a day and are expected to be okay or get on ambien and anti depressants to get through that period.

I think how men are expected to act and how our society has changed has also had a profound effect on how we cope especially with men. This was talked about a bit in the Stoicism thread, and I think that is a big part of it. Men aren't supposed to show emotion, your not supposed to cry or talk about your feelings, and at the same time you are supposed to be the breadwinner of your family and be the main support in your family.

Luckily women have taken on this role as well but they are now experiencing a lot of the stress that goes into that role of being the financial support for your family. Also working and being away from your kids is making the problem worse. 150 years ago all the kids for the most part grew up working with their father on the farm or whatever and the bond between males was a very big role in their life. I think the time fathers spend with their kids, has a huge effect on them.

Now for the most parts boys are being raised by the mother without their father in their life or spending little time together with the father working all the time. I think this has made male bonding decrease. Obviously the mothers involvement in their child's life is extremely important, and gender roles are changing to encourage both sexes to do things that was against the norm 50 years ago which is good and needs to happen faster.

Boys today don't bond with other males and aren't supposed to show emotion. It is making the way we cope and deal with things effect us in a negative way. In one of my classes we dived into this and talked about how much effect hearing you are a good man from another male has on a person and how we need to encourage male bonding. Obviously this works with females too, but women are known to have better relationships with their daughters than boys and their fathers.

I think we need to lose the stupid gender roles and go about it a different way and encourage people to be themselves.

I also hate that we give kids pills like candy, it is one of the most disturbing things I have every witnessed. Every kid now has ADD, anxiety, or depression. The tests they use to determine if a kid has ADD will say that 90%+ of kids have it, and that is how they sell it to parents. I think the reason it has become more prevalent is because we don't want to raise our kids, and teachers don't want to deal with kids. They just want kids to sit for 8 hours without moving at school, goto bed when they are asked, and not have energy or require any attention.

I would say most the reasons they give for putting a kid on medication are normal kid behavior that doesn't require meds. Obviously there are kids who need medication but it seems to me that majority is them being medicated solely for being normal kids. I had panic attacks starting at 8 so I don't think the doctors trying to put me on anti-depressants at 14 was as bad as them putting my nephew on adderal at 6. I still think it had a negative effect on me, and I stopped taking them completely at 19.

Watching them put my 7 y/o nephew on 25 mg of adderal a day seriously broke me, I don't know how else to put it. It was extremely hard for me to deal with and he didn't need it, I think it has caused tons of problems already, and I think it will cause lots of problems as he gets older. He has been on it for almost 5 years already, its so fucked up when it happened; me, my parents, and my brother pleaded with my oldest brother and his wife to not do it for over a year until we realized there was nothing we could do at that point.

The reasons he was put on it, is because his parents suck, are lazy, and didn't want to deal with having a kid with a lot of energy. He wasn't acting any differently than the kids his age, and the things he was doing were directly related to bad parenting. They had him when they were 16 but that doesn't make up for being lazy, bad parents. He would run around and be loud and have fun, and because they didn't want to deal with that he was forced on adderal so that he could sit places quietly and act like a abused puppy.

I hope that we can determine a more developed look at what normal chemical balances look like so that we can have a lot more proof before putting someone on meds. Obviously everyone is different, and there are a ton of things that go into being depressed or having ADD. You also would have to figure what a normal range looks like, and keep out the bias pharm companies so that everyone is out of the normal range and require medication.

It would be nice to know about things like this to be able to have a better grasp on reasons for addiction, relapsing, and any other mental health issues. Maybe it would open up things that we haven't looked at that have a direct relation to addiction or depression and be able to provide better care. That is something that would have to tread lightly like we should do with all meds because of how important, unpredictable, and fragile the mind is.

Offline Benz

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Re: Figuring out dopamine levels
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2016, 08:54:43 PM »
Very interesting thread. The modern proliferation of a pill to cure everyday, mundane issues is certainly very disturbing to me. Many friends of mine have convinced themselves they are profoundly depressed, suffer from anxiety or that events of their past define them as people & are insurmountable, purely because a GP (General Practioner) has told them this is the case when it simply isn't.

We ALL carry shit around from the past & while I have full empathy with people who are unable to overcome psychological issues or suffer from clinical depression or anxiety, big pharma NEEDS us to medicalise normal human responses to normal ups and downs, occasional anxiety. The most ironic element of the whole pill culture is that most of the mood stabilisers simply don't work AND bring a heap of side effects during use & in withdrawal.

I agree with the poster who described a seven year old boy being prescribed Adderal. Powerful amphetamine salts which most people would be horrified to hear were being given to a child outside the medical 'setting'. I've met adults who were Ritalin kids and they describe a turning point in their teens when they realised they could get high off their 'medication'. Probably when they matured enough to stop getting the paradoxical reaction to speed that children have. What the fuck is going on with repeat prescriptions for strong, controlled drugs to growing kids/teens?

Chipper asked,
can you guys differentiate between low and high dopamine levels with your "sixth sense (suggested to be the "sense" of one's self)" ?
Some days, when I've been living especially clean for a while (food, no poisons, exercise etc), I definitely notice a feeling of wellbeing I recognise as a mild dopamine surge. Sometimes I wish I'd never experienced the unnatural dopamine surges coke, opies & stims give you. The cravings can be really strong.


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