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Never Enough

The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction

Von Judith Grisel
15 Minuten
Audio-Version verfügbar
Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction von Judith Grisel

Never Enough (2019) is about drugs and addiction. The author explores the science behind drugs ranging from alcohol to cocaine and explains why certain people are more prone to addiction than others.

  • Drug addicts, including alcoholics and smokers
  • Psychologists and health professionals
  • Relatives and friends of addicts

Judith Grisel is a neuroscientist and psychologist based at the University of Bucknell in Pennsylvania. Before her successful academic career, Grisel was a drug addict. Her personal experience with addiction and overcoming it has informed her professional approach and her writing.

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Never Enough

The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction

Von Judith Grisel
  • Lesedauer: 15 Minuten
  • Verfügbar in Text & Audio
  • 9 Kernaussagen
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Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction von Judith Grisel
Worum geht's

Never Enough (2019) is about drugs and addiction. The author explores the science behind drugs ranging from alcohol to cocaine and explains why certain people are more prone to addiction than others.

Kernaussage 1 von 9

Addiction stems from the brain's nucleus accumbens and how it responds to drugs.

The story of our understanding of addiction begins in 1954, when Canadian psychologists James Olds and Peter Milner were conducting experiments on rats to understand how brains respond to stimuli.

They began by anesthetizing a rat and implanting an electrode in its brain. Once the rat regained consciousness, they used a gentle electrical current to stimulate its nucleus accumbens, a region of the brain located near the lower part of the frontal lobe. Now, the pair didn’t switch the electrical current on and off at random; rather, they delivered a small zap when the rat was in a particular corner of its cage. Before long, the rat began persistently returning to this corner, in need of its hit of electric stimulation.

The conclusion was obvious: the nucleus accumbens must be the brain’s reward center. The experiment sounds simple enough, but what Olds and Milner discovered unlocked a deeper understanding of drugs and addiction. 

Developing the research further, their experiments ultimately demonstrated that drugs do to human brains what those zaps did to the brains of rats. They stimulate the nucleus accumbens. This, in turn, triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that creates pleasurable feelings. The result is that humans, like those lab rats, keep coming back for more.

But the brain’s hardwiring is only part of why drugs are so addictive. As the drug consumer gradually gets hooked, another process is at work; it’s called habituation, and it’s what makes life seriously tough for addicts.

The brain doesn’t only release dopamine in response to drug consumption; it also produces hormones or neurotransmitters whose effect is the exact opposite of that induced by the drug. This is the body’s attempt to balance its internal systems and maintain equilibrium. If you’re a morning coffee drinker, then you’re probably familiar with habituation. The day’s first cup will fire up your brain activity, but this initial burst is soon followed by a decrease in that activity.

So, if you drink coffee regularly, the baseline activity in your brain is reduced, making it harder to wake yourself up unless you’ve had your daily cup.

Habituation is a major element in addiction: once the body’s used to a particular drug, it becomes very difficult to go without it.

In the grand scheme of things, coffee’s not so potent, so let’s take a look at some other drugs that are.

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