February 4, 2013
When the Super Bowl has concluded, many football fans will start to experience some of the same physiological withdrawal symptoms that drug addicts feel when deprived, according to Dr. Angelos Halaris of Loyola University Medical Center.
The withdrawal effects come not from the game itself, but from the fact that it marks the end of football season, Halaris said. Any time human beings engage in enjoyable activities, their brains release the pleasure-producing neurotransmitter dopamine. For a fan, football season consists of a steady series of dopamine releases as the thrills build. When the pleasurable stimulation is removed, the brain experiences withdrawal from dopamine, much like the brain of a smoker deprived of nicotine.
“When the football season is over and there’s no other game on the schedule for months, you’re stuck, so you go through withdrawal,” Halaris said.