Day Four: Dopamine It’s a Risky Business

You might have heard of Dopamine – but did you know it’s an important brain chemical? Join the Cyrenians’ Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution (SCCR) to learn more as part of a series on the Science of our Emotions, as part of Year of the Young People 2018 and in collaboration with Young Scot.

So it’s true Dopamine (the Brain’s Deluxe Joy Drug) creates a feeling of euphoria and heightens our senses making experiences more pleasurable – but it also plays a big part in our being in a state of ‘Alert & Engaged’.

An illustration of a bottle labelled 'Dopamine.'

But have you noticed how adults don’t seem to get as excited by the same things we do? That’s because in young people levels of Dopamine are less regulated than in adults. When we dare each other to take risks or feel like we’re on top of the world, it’s because large levels of Dopamine are flowing through our brains and bodies. Part of our biological development involves the brain’s ability to learn when to release Dopamine and how much each situation needs. We need to have experiences to learn what’s safe and unsafe, which actions bring rewards or reprimands (from parents/carers, friends and society).

Top tip: The next time you’re accused of being ‘too big for your boots’ or taking too many risks, talk about Dopamine and how it’s essential to how you learn to be both brave and safe in any situation. But watch out! Too much Dopamine may cause you to put yourself at risk and put yourself in harm’s way. If you’re feeling like it’s all getting a bit out of hand take a step back if you can to look at the situation and make a call on whether to continue. Think about any potential consequences.

An illustration of a person limbering up with the text 'Alert and Engaged, to boldly go...'

On Day Five we are going to look at the love drug - Oxytocin. Meantime, join us on Facebook and Twitter to tell us your #TopTips for staying safe while having fun using #CranialCocktail

SCCR images subject to copyright. Illustrations by Hannah Foley, Owling About.