Never Enough Book Summary - Never Enough Book explained in key points
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Never Enough summary

Judith Grisel

The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction

4.3 (256 ratings)
23 mins

Brief summary

Never Enough by Judith Grisel is a memoir that explores the author's addiction to drugs and her journey to sobriety. It offers a powerful firsthand insight into why addiction happens, obstacles people face when recovering, and the hope and resilience needed to overcome addiction.

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    Never Enough
    Summary of 8 key ideas

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    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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    What is Never Enough about?

    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.

    Never Enough Review

    Never Enough by Judith Grisel (2019) is a captivating memoir that provides insight into the destructive power of addiction and the journey to recovery. Here's why this book is a must-read:

    • By sharing her own experiences, Grisel offers a raw and honest perspective on addiction, helping readers develop empathy and understanding.
    • Backed by scientific research and her expertise as a neuroscientist, the book offers valuable insights into the underlying causes of addiction and the brain's response to substances.
    • Grisel's engaging and relatable storytelling keeps readers hooked, effectively conveying the pain, struggles, and triumphs associated with addiction and recovery.

    Best quote from Never Enough

    An addict doesnt drink coffee because she is tired; she is tired because she drinks coffee.

    —Judith Grisel
    example alt text

    Who should read Never Enough?

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

    About the Author

    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 FAQs 

    What is the main message of Never Enough?

    The main message of Never Enough is the science behind addictive behaviors and how to overcome them.

    How long does it take to read Never Enough?

    The reading time for Never Enough varies based on reading speed, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in around 15 minutes.

    Is Never Enough a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Never Enough is a compelling read that sheds light on the nature of addiction and provides actionable insights for recovery.

    Who is the author of Never Enough?

    Judith Grisel is the author of Never Enough.

    What to read after Never Enough?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Never Enough, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • The Optimism Bias by Tali Sharot
    • Atomic Habits by James Clear
    • The Molecule of More by Daniel Z. Lieberman and Michael E. Long
    • Dopamine Nation by Anna Lembke