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Drugs & Health Blog

Word of the Day: Euphoria

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.

Image Courtesy of Nicholas Noyes

Sara Bellum

Euphoria: A feeling of well-being or elation.

Euphoria is that excitement you get from getting a perfect score on a test, or attention from someone you have a crush on. It can come from a roller coaster ride or as the rush from a physical activity like downhill skiing, especially the first time. These feelings of euphoria are all healthy and natural.

What's not healthy or natural is taking drugs to feel "euphoric." Drugs of abuse artificially produce euphoria by manipulating your brain chemistry to make it seem that something exciting is happening. To get this feeling again, you may choose to use the drugs again-and again. And that can lead to craving and addiction.

Over time, the brain needs more of the drug to get the same feelings of pleasure. Why? The drug causes surges, like waves, of the brain chemical dopamine, which initially produce the euphoria. After repeated hits, though, the brain adjusts to this higher level of dopamine by making less of it and by reducing the number of receptors that can receive and transmit the signals it sends. Pretty soon, the drug abuser is taking the drug just to bring the dopamine functions back up to normal and to avoid the horrible craving that compels them to seek and use drugs even when their lives and health are falling apart. That is really the essence of addiction.

People jumping in the air.

But the good news is that natural, healthy experiences of euphoria don't wreck the brain's chemistry. So think about what you do in life that makes you feel good. Spending time with friends, playing with your dog, doing sports, seeing a good movie? Any of these activities can create a natural euphoria by triggering the brain's reward system the way it was meant to work.

So don't let drugs fool your brain, and then wreck it.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


so it is just a adrenalin rush???

i guess so

Good News....looking for more update

it is like rush of adrenalin... and you cant stop moving... you are dancing and dancing... and when you feel good it is really good but when your scaerd od upset its horrible... you are felling like police are hunting you becouse you did something really wrong... but the feeling is amazing... i dont usuali take anything like that and it was my first time... and i really enyoed... feeling goes away after 4-5 hours... and your like new then =)))

@malena @Malena—that is a good description, except you’re not really “like new,” because your brain has been affected by the drug. For some people, this feeling is irresistible, and they will want to do it again….and again. You get to the point where the drug takes up too much of your life and wastes a lot of your time. And possibly—causes addiction, which brings with it lots of things that nobody wants.

I always amazed what is this called? I never knew it was termed as 'Euphoria'. I had once felt like i am the god and am immense power surge ran in me when i first time talked to a girl whom i had an humongous crush on. Thanks for this article post.

The euphoria is a feeling in which you have a crazy amount of self confidence it makes you feel good about what you are doing because you believe in yourself and when you believe in yourself you are more likely to do better. Drugs that cause this are addictive because they let you crave the euphoria usually someone who takes a drug to get a euphoria high doesn't have self confidence and doesn't have a lot of euphoria in there normal everyday lives
One time i had euphoria and i had to lay down cuz i del so bad and my dad cam in a sayid well saon u r bad and im agona call the cop amd so he did and then we went tk the cop and he said u r arrest ed but then i took ore with him and we have ok
i thinks its when u accomplish something rlly hard. like a jump on a snowboard or winning a swim race (ive done all of those)
well am doing it in my 9th grade class as a project with my group and we picked club drugs this gives us some facts but not all you need to have more details thanks and plz

Hi Maria.  Club drugs include GHB, Rohypnol, ketamine, MDMA (Molly), Meth, and LSD.  You can find information about club drugs on the main National Institute on Drug Abuse website.

You should also check our Drug Facts pages on MDMA, and Meth.  

Good luck and let us know if you need information on specific drugs.

"Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information." Apparently the blog itself may contain inaccurate information too: "The drug causes surges, like waves, of the brain chemical dopamine, which initially produce the euphoria." Rather than dopamine causing pleasure, it is pleasure that causes dopamine surges, which in turn cause the compulsive behavior called addiction. The idea that dopamine causes pleasure has generally been abandoned for some time now. If it was just a matter of levels of dopamine, abstinence would cure addiction, and relapse wouldn't occur. Cravings can be triggered long after dopamine levels are restored. That's what makes addiction such a serious problem—not an easy fix. Once that happens, all the sources of normal euphoria lose value next to the drug. So get a healthy diet of normal euphoria. Music and comedy are great options too. Anyway, perhaps an NIDA scientist should review blog posts for technical accuracy.

You are probably right that “surges in dopamine” relate to reinforcement of reward and generation of incentive salience and not the reward (euphoria) itself. Recent research has attempted to better distinguish these processes, and is finding that some of the same brain areas such as the nucleus accumbens are involved in both; but while motivation to obtain a drug and the learning processes that govern incentive salience involve dopamine surges in these mesolimbic circuits, recent research (for instance by NIDA-funded researcher Kent Berridge) is suggesting that activation of mu opioid receptors in the nucleus accumbens shell (and possibly other brain areas) are responsible for the actual pleasure animals feel in enjoying goals, such as the enjoyment of sweet food in rats. More research needs to be conducted to verify that drug euphoria in humans is also mediated by opioids in the same small brain targets.

Humans tend to focus on the reward. But in nature it is more about the work that you put in. And in reality dopamine is more a reflection of a sensed opportunity than some reward for a job well done. Two sides of the same coin, but while the reward perspective makes sense to people, the opportunity perspective is what matters for future behavior, growth, survival and procreation. It is perhaps also what makes you happy: Sensing great opportunity to fulfill your destiny, fill your stomach, mate with someone healthy and have lots of offspring. Dopamine euphoria drives you towards all of that. The "reward" is incidental really.