Most drugs of abuse target the brain’s reward system, whether directly or indirectly. These substances flood the reward system with dopamine that regulates movement, emotion, motivation, and feelings of pleasure.
Dopamine is naturally activated during exercise, when a person smells good food, during sexual activities and other pleasurable events.
How Drugs and Alcohol Interact with Dopamine
When dopamine is artificially overstimulated through drug and alcohol use, it produces euphoric effects. These strongly reinforce the behavior of abuse and make the user more inclined to use again.