My favorite section of the course was the chapters on addictions. Addiction is a dependence for something, often times a drug. The characteristics of addiction are: cravings, seeking out and drug usage. The person often has an uncontrollable, overpowering urge to use the drug, and builds their body up to tolerate it. Genetically, related individuals are vulnerable to drug experimentation and addiction. Personality dispositions also play an important role in drug addiction; Different personalities are associated with different levels of addiction. For example, high sensation seekers enjoy the greater stimulation that psychoactive drugs provide. Dopamine is a brain chemical that is related to pleasure, therefore lower sensitivity makes individuals more likely to turn to drugs for their pleasure. James Old discovered the "Pleasure Center" in 1953, by implanting electrodes in the hypothalamus of rats. They behaved repeatedly in order to stimulate the electrode presumably for the pleasure it provided.
Below is an EXCELLENT EXCELLENT video that thoroughly explains addiction, especially the role that dopamine plays in addiction. It is a bit longer, but if you have the time to watch I highly suggest it. It explains the science behind it, but in an easier way. If you fast forward to about 3 minutes in, it starts to introduce Dopamine.
By: Kate McGinley