Can A Natural High Prevent Addiction

2 min


teens diving off cliff

For some, the natural high is found on the top of a cliff, 33 feet in the air, peering over their toes down to the pool of blue water below. Others find their high by thrashing through in the woods searching for this year’s big buck. Tragically many find their high in a dirty alley, with a used needle, a rubber strap, and a powdery substance mixed with who knows what.

The Need For A High Isn’t The Problem

Our brains were designed to seek a high. Loretta G. Breuning Ph.D., from Psychology Today, explains, “The expectation of a reward triggers a good feeling in the mammal brain, and releases the energy you need to reach the reward.” That good feeling is dopamine.

Drugs Change The Way Your Brain Seeks The High

Recreational drugs cause a rush of dopamine to flood your brain, triggering a feel good high. Your brain remembers those warm fuzzy feelings and wants more. More drugs equal more high. Unfortunately, the drugs change your brain’s natural chemistry, causing the cravings for the high to grow more important than anything else. Even worse, your original dose is no longer enough. Your brain begins to demand MORE.

What About Natural Highs

Studies continue to show that thrill-seeking, impulsive kids have a higher risk for substance use disorder. One way to help prevent drug abuse is to teach them to embrace this innate need for risk and reward, and feed it with healthy adventure. Some healthy activities to try are:

  • Horseback riding
  • Zip-lining
  • Skateboarding
  • BMX racing
  • Performing Arts
  • Hiking
  • Rock-climbing
  • Go-carting
  • Paint-balling
  • Tag
  • Fishing
  • Parachuting
  • Theme parks
  • Running
  • Skating

My son loves the thrill of riding a skateboard down tall concrete slopes. I love traveling to new cities on my own, just to prove I can. Something as simple as taking a new way home or dining out at an exotic new restaurant may do the trick. Just as whiskey may be one person’s vice while heroin may be the only thing that works for someone else, the same is true with healthy alternatives. The key is to keep trying healthy ways to meet this need until you find what works for you.

All humans need to experience the excitement of a natural high, and it’s not so hard to find. It’s each family’s own kind of fun. Is it making dinner, hiking, going to the movies for your family? It’s important to bring fun into your life and follow it. Oh yes, and teach your friends that there isn’t a drug or substance out there that can produce a feeling you can’t get yourself in a healthy, adventurous way.
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Pam Carver

Pam is the author of two books: Co-dependent In The Kitchen, and Find Your True Colors In 12 Steps. She's also a contributing editor for Reach Out Recovery. She's a recovery advocate who likes long walks on the beach and chocolate.

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