What Your Favorite Songs & Illegal Drugs Have In Common
Do you feel a sense of happiness and pleasure when listening to your favorite genre of music? Have you ever gotten chills during your favorite song? Would you prefer to listen to music over doing…pretty much anything else?
You might say you have a “music addiction,” and you could actually be right. Many recent studies show that there are, in fact, a few connections between the functions that occur when we listen to music and when we take drugs.
The Human Response to Music
As you most likely know, music can release emotions in humans that other forms of entertainment may not be able to. We can connect and relate to music in a way that feels unique, and there may be a few reasons for that.
We don’t just feel it emotionally, we feel it physically, too. From chills on the arm to hairs standing up on the back of the neck, a variety of physical responses can be triggered when you’re listening to a song.
And of course, singing music has its own effects. For some people, singing unleashes something in them that they can’t explain. This is all because of the magic of music, and maybe a dash of something extra.
What Are the Similarities Between Drugs & Music?
Here are just a few things that taking drugs and listening to/producing music might have in common:
- Music and drugs both create pleasure by acting on the brain’s opioid system.
- Singing can release endorphins, which many drugs do as well.
- Many drugs, like prescriptions, can dull pain. Music has also been shown to provide a sense of relief in stressful or painful situations like surgeries.
But the main similarity between drugs and music lies in one ingredient: dopamine.
Discovering Dopamine: How It Affects You
Dopamine is released in the moment when people feel pleasure. It can happen when people:
- Have sex
- Do drugs
- Listen to music
When the brain’s opioid system is activated, dopamine is released. This identical action occurs both when people listen to music and use drugs, making them more similar that we may think.
The Science Behind Drugs & Music
People don’t just say that they feel certain things when listening to music; scientists have actually studied it. People who get chills during their favorite songs have been examined for thor temperature, breathing, and blood rate as well to determine rises that would be parallel with drug use.
One specific study, conducted at McGill University, had a group of participants listen to music they liked. On one day of the experiment, they took an opiate-blocking medication first (naltrexone). After taking it, they no longer enjoyed the same songs as much.
Is Music A Drug?
Long story short: while we wouldn’t normally call music a drug, we could realistically maintain a healthy addiction to it. Music is at such a high value all over the world, and maybe the dopamine connection has something to do with it bringing us all together.