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Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction

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From a renowned behavioral neuroscientist and recovered drug addict, an authoritative and accessible guide to understanding drug addiction: clearly explained brain science and vivid personal stories reveal how addiction happens, show why specific drugs--from opioids to alcohol to coke and more--are so hard to kick, and illuminate the path to recovery for addicts, loved one From a renowned behavioral neuroscientist and recovered drug addict, an authoritative and accessible guide to understanding drug addiction: clearly explained brain science and vivid personal stories reveal how addiction happens, show why specific drugs--from opioids to alcohol to coke and more--are so hard to kick, and illuminate the path to recovery for addicts, loved ones, caregivers, and crafters of public policy. Addiction is epidemic and catastrophic. With more than one in every five people over the age of fourteen addicted, drug abuse has been called the most formidable health problem worldwide. If we are not victims ourselves, we all know someone struggling with the merciless compulsion to alter their experience by changing how their brain functions. Drawing on years of research--as well as personal experience as a recovered addict--researcher and professor Judy Grisel has reached a fundamental conclusion: for the addict, there will never be enough drugs. The brain's capacity to learn and adapt is seemingly infinite, allowing it to counteract any regular disruption, including that caused by drugs. What begins as a normal state punctuated by periods of being high transforms over time into a state of desperate craving that is only temporarily subdued by a fix, explaining why addicts are unable to live either with or without their drug. One by one, Grisel shows how different drugs act on the brain, the kind of experiential effects they generate, and the specific reasons why each is so hard to kick. Grisel's insights lead to a better understanding of the brain's critical contributions to addictive behavior, and will help inform a more rational, coherent, and compassionate response to the epidemic in our homes and communities.

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From a renowned behavioral neuroscientist and recovered drug addict, an authoritative and accessible guide to understanding drug addiction: clearly explained brain science and vivid personal stories reveal how addiction happens, show why specific drugs--from opioids to alcohol to coke and more--are so hard to kick, and illuminate the path to recovery for addicts, loved one From a renowned behavioral neuroscientist and recovered drug addict, an authoritative and accessible guide to understanding drug addiction: clearly explained brain science and vivid personal stories reveal how addiction happens, show why specific drugs--from opioids to alcohol to coke and more--are so hard to kick, and illuminate the path to recovery for addicts, loved ones, caregivers, and crafters of public policy. Addiction is epidemic and catastrophic. With more than one in every five people over the age of fourteen addicted, drug abuse has been called the most formidable health problem worldwide. If we are not victims ourselves, we all know someone struggling with the merciless compulsion to alter their experience by changing how their brain functions. Drawing on years of research--as well as personal experience as a recovered addict--researcher and professor Judy Grisel has reached a fundamental conclusion: for the addict, there will never be enough drugs. The brain's capacity to learn and adapt is seemingly infinite, allowing it to counteract any regular disruption, including that caused by drugs. What begins as a normal state punctuated by periods of being high transforms over time into a state of desperate craving that is only temporarily subdued by a fix, explaining why addicts are unable to live either with or without their drug. One by one, Grisel shows how different drugs act on the brain, the kind of experiential effects they generate, and the specific reasons why each is so hard to kick. Grisel's insights lead to a better understanding of the brain's critical contributions to addictive behavior, and will help inform a more rational, coherent, and compassionate response to the epidemic in our homes and communities.

30 review for Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Blackledge

    Author Judith Grisel is a recovered drug addict who got clean in the 80s and became a neuroscientist in search of a cure for addiction. Now, 40 some years later, she’s all but thrown in the towel on that project. There is no cure. There may never be a “cure”. Addiction is simply not that kind of issue. Addiction has historically been viewed as a weakness of will, or flawed character, or due to an addictive personality. That’s all a bunch of primitive, punitive, ignorant, dysfunctional, ineffectiv Author Judith Grisel is a recovered drug addict who got clean in the 80s and became a neuroscientist in search of a cure for addiction. Now, 40 some years later, she’s all but thrown in the towel on that project. There is no cure. There may never be a “cure”. Addiction is simply not that kind of issue. Addiction has historically been viewed as a weakness of will, or flawed character, or due to an addictive personality. That’s all a bunch of primitive, punitive, ignorant, dysfunctional, ineffective, grossly inaccurate nonsense. More recently, the disease model of addiction has been promoted to counter all of that. And it is a huge firmware upgrade. But the disease model is still confusing, slightly disingenuous, and somewhat intellectually dishonest. Particularly when you understand the issue with greater resolution. Addiction can be considered a disease, but a very different kind of disease than cancer or the flu. Addiction involves a complexity of interacting biological, psychological, social, environmental, cultural and even ‘spiritual (with an asterisk)’ factors. Yes, it’s a brain disease of sorts, involving artificially super stimulating compounds that hack, exploit and re-wire a vulnerable brains evolutionarily conditioned motivation, reward and learning systems. But that’s not what most people think of when they hear ‘addiction is a disease’ and that’s not the kind of thing a pill or surgery will ever be able to ‘cure’. Addiction is (like diabetes) a chronic condition, typically necessitating a long term, comprehensive and systematic program of bio-psycho-social rehabilitation. But that takes a lot of work. And no pill can do all that. Addiction is manageable. Millions of people recover every day, and go on to lead highly productive, meaningful lives, that are frequently highly enriched as a result. People in recovery often develop super human psycho-social skills resulting from the programs of rigorous honesty, personal exploration and growth, self care, radical acceptance and compassion, and commitment to service and community typically necessary to overcome this tremendous adversity. Again, that all takes work. Really really hard as fuck, hard, hard, extremely difficult, extremely rewarding and meaningful, really hard fucking work. It’s like Britney says. And she should know. Ya gotta work biotch. So Judith Grisel’s work didn’t produce a miracle cure. But her decades of work did provide humanity with something that is arguably as important. Clarity. Or good, organized data (GOD). That’s an old atheist joke (not a very funny one, but then again, it’s not a very funny subculture). Never Enough toggles between addiction memoir (written in the first person) and neuroscience popularization (written in the third person), providing the reader with a gritty hell ride through personal ruin to recovery, intermittently augmented with extremely fucking interesting neuroscience that normalizes the issue and introduces badly needed clarity to the Tower of Babel that is the current public conversation. In a nutshell: if you tip your your brain out of balance with the happy chemicals in drugs of abuse, your brain compensates in a multitude of problematic ways, including by over producing the opposite neurochemistry, which makes you feel worse than awful when you’re not high. Recovery necessarily entails healing this imbalance and the underlying issues that initially lead you-me-us-them to the blunt, bottle, pooky or point. And did I mention that takes really hard work? Addiction is a brain disease, a deadly illusion, an evolutionary miss-match, a product of learning gone wild, a public health issue, a spiritual crisis and so much more. Never Enough provides a clear, realistic window into a large section of the issue, from the inside out, written by a former coke slamming neuroscientist. How much more could a reader honestly ask for? FIVE STARS (🌟X5) NOTE: Never Enough is not a self help book. And the author is not an expert in recovery. Additionally, she seems to lack important insight into how good therapy and sober social support can help. Lots of other good books for that. This book is only good for those interested in a clear explanation of the neuroscience, from a trustworthy source. So if that’s what you’re after, consider yourself informed.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kristy K

    3.5 Stars An eye-opening and informative book about addiction and neuroscience. Written by an addict turned PhD recipient, there were great insights along with well-researched data. A lot of pieces of information I didn’t know and having Grisel’s personal experience interjected really helped flesh out the material. Addiction is a crippling and oft misunderstood mental illness that so many battle and it was good to see text that exposed the reality of addiction while not shaming those who suffer. 3.5 Stars An eye-opening and informative book about addiction and neuroscience. Written by an addict turned PhD recipient, there were great insights along with well-researched data. A lot of pieces of information I didn’t know and having Grisel’s personal experience interjected really helped flesh out the material. Addiction is a crippling and oft misunderstood mental illness that so many battle and it was good to see text that exposed the reality of addiction while not shaming those who suffer. Grisel covers alcoholism as well as a gamut of drugs, both legal and illegal. Not only does she detail effects of them she also explores the neurological response garnered from taking them. This is the perfect blend of science and memoir (leaning more toward the former) and I’d recommend to anyone interested in learning more about addiction or drugs in general. I received an advanced copy through Netgalley in return for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Camelia Rose

    One quarter of memoir and three quarters of neuroscience, Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction is by far the best popular science book about substance addiction I've read. The author Judith Grisel had been a heavy drug-addict. She started drinking alcohol at age of 13, took weed, cocaine and any drugs she could find, dropped out of university, worked odd jobs and committed petty crimes to feed her addiction, and did not stop abusing drugs until the age 23. After she sought One quarter of memoir and three quarters of neuroscience, Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction is by far the best popular science book about substance addiction I've read. The author Judith Grisel had been a heavy drug-addict. She started drinking alcohol at age of 13, took weed, cocaine and any drugs she could find, dropped out of university, worked odd jobs and committed petty crimes to feed her addiction, and did not stop abusing drugs until the age 23. After she sought treatment and later came off clean, she decided (naively) to "cure addiction". She spent 7 years to finish university, another 7 years to earn a PhD in Behavior Neuroscience and Psychology, and sober for 30 years since. This book is a collection of findings in neuroscience and her experience as a drug user. If you are, like me, not a professional in the field but interested in the physiological mechanism of how drugs work in human brain, why and how they become addictive, look no further. The addiction mechanism is articulated in the book: the A process and B process in brain functions, where A process the process initiated by mind alteration drugs and B process the brain's powerful way to counter-act. Drugs covered in the book: -- Alcohol -- THC (marijuana) -- Sedative drugs (sleeping pills) and other prescription drugs -- Narcotic drugs -- Stimulant (caffeine, nicotine, cocaine, etc...) -- Many other street drugs Among all the substances discussed in the book: 1. Caffeine is ok 2. Psychedelic drugs of the narrow definition (including LSD, Psilocybin, DMT/Ayahuasca, Mescaline/ Peyote, not including MDMA, PCP or Ecstasy) are possibly ok, even beneficial under clinic settings 3. I am especially interested in THC because of the legalization of marijuana. This is what I've learned: (1) THC is a very potent drug. It highlights your senses and can make mundane experience much more beautiful. The molecule can be found everywhere in the brain when smoking marijuana; its affect has something to do with CB1 receptor, and it works by alternating the signal/noise relationship in the brain. (2) THC is addictive, although it's less addictive than others (3) Its effect varies in different individuals, some may experience sleepiness or paranoia. Long term exposure may cause memory loss or psychosis. Chapter 10 "Why Me" discusses why some people are prone to addiction and some are not. The answer is scientists have some clues but they don't know for sure. Genetics, epigenetics and environmental influences all play a part, and the earlier you are exposed to drugs, the more likely you become a chronicle user. Is there a cure for addiction? The answer is no, not for the foreseeable time. What makes the cure of addiction nearly impossible is that the nature of all neuro activities is context-depending. What is reckless in one context, creative in another. The author disapproves War on Drugs, because it is useless in either preventing drugs or helping drug users to quit. "Punishment seldom works" on drug users. "Recovery is an consequence of expansion, not restriction."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Henk-Jan van der Klis

    After years of experience as drugs addict, Judith Grisel got sober and embraced the chance to scientifically study the mechanisms underneath addictive substances, and their consequences on behavior. Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction is her accessible and authoritative guide through a taxonomy of stimulants, depressants, uppers and downers, alcoholics, plants, liquids, pills, and needles. Addiction today is epidemic and catastrophic. The personal and social consequences of After years of experience as drugs addict, Judith Grisel got sober and embraced the chance to scientifically study the mechanisms underneath addictive substances, and their consequences on behavior. Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction is her accessible and authoritative guide through a taxonomy of stimulants, depressants, uppers and downers, alcoholics, plants, liquids, pills, and needles. Addiction today is epidemic and catastrophic. The personal and social consequences of this widespread and relentless urge are almost too large to grasp. In the United States alone some 16 percent of the population aged twelve and above meet criteria for a substance use disorder. In purely financial terms, it costs more than five times as much as AIDS and twice as much as cancer. The book highlights the current knowledge neuroscience has brought on this topic. How are substances transmitted into cells, synapses and influence behavior, central nerve system, and impact movements, speech, memory, fetus' health, etcetera? When any drug has an effect, it's due to the drug's chemical actions on brain structures. For most drugs of abuse, we know precisely which structures are modified, and this gives us a really good start to understand how they make us feel the way they do. Yet, there's still much we don't know yet. The bottom line in is this book is that there can never be enough drug. Because of the brain's tremendous capacity to adapt, it's impossible for a regular user to get high, and the best a voracious appetite for more drug can hope to accomplish is to stave off withdrawal. This situation is best recognized as a dead end, in the most literal sense. But to wait for a biomedical or any outside cure is to miss asking questions of ourselves and considering our own role in the epidemic. While we are at it, instead of wringing our hands, we might try holding one another's.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay Nixon

    STOP, read Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs and The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma if you want to learn about addiction/neurology re: addiction. I have never been so disappointed by a book. It's a weird book in that it starts off as, and sometimes returns to being, a memoir of a junkie. The rest feels like a stale book report prepared by a High School student about various drugs or effects, almost as though it was lifted from w STOP, read Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs and The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma if you want to learn about addiction/neurology re: addiction. I have never been so disappointed by a book. It's a weird book in that it starts off as, and sometimes returns to being, a memoir of a junkie. The rest feels like a stale book report prepared by a High School student about various drugs or effects, almost as though it was lifted from wikipedia, except wikipedia goes into more depth. Have I mentioned I was sorely disappointed? What a bore. The audible is especially flat and terrible. I was so sure this would be my non-fiction of the year. When clients ask me if they are addicts or addicted to something I tell them #1, addiction is by self-diagnosis, but a test I use with myself often is "will there ever be enough?" I like to tell the story of a man who liked a sandwich so much he ordered another (this is from the AA book), or if one Tylenol works, why not take 2 so it works even better? With this very test being the NAME of the book I had the highest of hopes. Again, GOOD FOR HER but this book is a NOPE. I'm SO DISAPPOINTED.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    Reads more like a textbook which became a bit monotonous. I much prefer the book Dopesick by Beth Macy for a look at addiction, but it was interesting to hear the authors reflections on her own experience with drugs and addiction. This book would probably be more interesting for those who have only a small knowledge of addiction/drugs and the neuroscience behind it. Its a good introduction that includes the science and factual information on the subject that i find important, but still manageabl Reads more like a textbook which became a bit monotonous. I much prefer the book Dopesick by Beth Macy for a look at addiction, but it was interesting to hear the authors reflections on her own experience with drugs and addiction. This book would probably be more interesting for those who have only a small knowledge of addiction/drugs and the neuroscience behind it. Its a good introduction that includes the science and factual information on the subject that i find important, but still manageable for those who are not up to date on scientific jargon (though it does become a bit too flooded with jargon at times).

  7. 4 out of 5

    LittleSophie

    That was a really informative and engaging book about the neurological implications and pecularities of addiction and specific drugs. The author mixes easy to follow scientific explanations with more colloquial musings about her own experience with addiction, which worked really well, I think, and prevented the book from ever feeling didactive. I really recommend this for an informed, sympathetic and emphatic view on the rising tide of addiction.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    I had to really take my time with this one... Grisel proves her wisdom over and over, detailing the hows and whys of addiction specific to different drugs, but it missed the mark I was hoping it would land on in the end. I guess it's that I was hoping for more of a tell-all about this neuroscientist's own trial with addiction while she was much younger as she still lives to warn us nearly 30 years after getting sober, but instead it read mostly like a textbook. I was glad to have this informatio I had to really take my time with this one... Grisel proves her wisdom over and over, detailing the hows and whys of addiction specific to different drugs, but it missed the mark I was hoping it would land on in the end. I guess it's that I was hoping for more of a tell-all about this neuroscientist's own trial with addiction while she was much younger as she still lives to warn us nearly 30 years after getting sober, but instead it read mostly like a textbook. I was glad to have this information in one place, sporadically broken up (mostly in the very beginning and ending) by her insights and allusions to her experiences, but I was hoping for more of a literary bent. The note she ends on is really a good one though, pointing to the fact that we so often perceive addicts as "them" and instead of being the people those addicts need when they're at they're worst, we're quick to judge and lament how these people got themselves there on their own and should pull themselves up in the same way- but that is wholly the worst thing we, either the non-addicts or recovering addicts, could possibly do, and after all aren't we ALL just the same kind of human trying to make it through this life in one piece?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kari

    Incredibly informative and insightful investigation of addiction from the perspective of a recovering addict and neuroscientist. I enjoyed Grisel's ability to put the isolation of addiction into context with social movements and the rise of capitalism. Addiction is a personal, social, neuroscientific, and public health issue. She wove in all of the intertwining factors beautifully and in an entertaining way. Highly recommend this book to anyone as the drug crisis is more urgent than ever.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    Never Enough by Judith Grisel is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early February. Perpetual addiction as a way to escape day to day reality and the tight grasp of mental illness, as well as the neurological side of being addicted to different kinds of drugs, how prevalent it can be in any society, the personal/institutional costs, and stories of the author’s own experiences. Grisel grasps your hand at the beginning of each chapter to make a good impression and offer deep-cut philosophical th Never Enough by Judith Grisel is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early February. Perpetual addiction as a way to escape day to day reality and the tight grasp of mental illness, as well as the neurological side of being addicted to different kinds of drugs, how prevalent it can be in any society, the personal/institutional costs, and stories of the author’s own experiences. Grisel grasps your hand at the beginning of each chapter to make a good impression and offer deep-cut philosophical theory, then drops it to turn to a chalkboard filled with neurocogitive stats, only to turn around, snapping to get your attention, and luring you partway back in with another personal reference.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jocelyn

    Everyone should read this book. Admittedly I didn’t always understand the neuroscience she was describing, I did however walk away with a better comprehension of the opponent process theory and understanding of drug and alcohol addiction. She touches both on legal (proscription drugs, alcohol, caffeine) and illegal drugs. I especially loved the last chapter and how important love and connection are even though it is easier to walk away from someone with a substance abuse problem, that will never Everyone should read this book. Admittedly I didn’t always understand the neuroscience she was describing, I did however walk away with a better comprehension of the opponent process theory and understanding of drug and alcohol addiction. She touches both on legal (proscription drugs, alcohol, caffeine) and illegal drugs. I especially loved the last chapter and how important love and connection are even though it is easier to walk away from someone with a substance abuse problem, that will never help them. Found the science on marijuana in chapter 10 or 11 really important now considering the states in which it is a legal substance for anyone. That due to the opponent process theory, depression and other problems are increased in marijuana users is an important finding to hear from a neuroscientist.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ian

    Grisel does two things really well in this book. She gets to the marrow of what an addict's life is because she lived it before she found recovery and got her professional credentials. She also, in very helpful chapters, describes what the specific drugs do to our brains. So enlightening to me as someone genetically predisposed to alcohol abuse.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dan Wilbur

    Helped me understand drugs I’ve mindlessly put in my body for my whole life. Personal, interesting, important. Some of the explanations of how the brain works, understandably, were difficult to understand. Gets a little too technical at times in that sense but if you have patience, you can understand how everything affects your brain and body!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    3.5 stars - former drug addict turned Neuroscientist who studies addiction. Interesting read - some of it was a little too technical for me.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Connie Hall

    Utterly fascinating. As a sober/clean person for many years now, I loved her succinct explanation of each class of drugs and how they work and then stop working. I thought that I was pretty well versed in this area, but found myself learning a lot. I highly recommend!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dramatika

    A fascinating study on addiction, perfect for a laymen, the best pop science book I’ve read this year

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    As heard on the Science Magazine Podcast: http://traffic.libsyn.com/sciencemag/...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    Excellent and accessible account of the complexity of addiction from a personal, but mostly scientific perspective. Brilliant.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Travis Lupick

    This is not a review but is based on an interview I had with the author. It was originally published in the Georgia Straight newspaper. Judith Grisel enjoyed using drugs. Cannabis, especially. “In many ways my relationship with the drug was among the purest and most wonderful relationships of my life,” she writes in Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction (Doubleday, February 2019). “From the first time I got high until long after I’d smoked my last bowl, I loved the drug like a This is not a review but is based on an interview I had with the author. It was originally published in the Georgia Straight newspaper. Judith Grisel enjoyed using drugs. Cannabis, especially. “In many ways my relationship with the drug was among the purest and most wonderful relationships of my life,” she writes in Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction (Doubleday, February 2019). “From the first time I got high until long after I’d smoked my last bowl, I loved the drug like a best friend.” The behavioral neuroscientist and professor of psychology at Pennsylvania’s Bucknell University also once had an intense love-hate relationship with cocaine, and pretty much any mind-altering substance within reach. It’s been three decades since she stopped using drugs, save for her daily use of the coffee bean. But Grisel concedes she sometimes misses them, and still sees potential benefits in the occasional use of certain substances; psychedelics, primarily, which she notes new research suggests may help some people with mental-health issues such as PTSD. And so, Grisel told the Straight, in that regard, it’s a sad story she tells in Never Enough. It turns out that mind-altering drugs simply aren’t good for you, cannabis included. “Using drugs to change the way we think, feel, and behave, is ancient and universal,” Grisel says in a telephone interview. “I do think that, not only is it natural, but that there are some benefits. I might have not survived my childhood without all that weed, now that I think about it. So I’m not against it. But I do think that addiction takes all the fun out of it, and that there are consequences for people, their families, and society.” Grisel sought an education and then a career in neuroscience because of her addiction to drugs. The book recounts how she entered the field with the goal of finding a “cure”. “I thought that if I could find the cellular switch that flipped somewhere between my third and my fourth drinks, or each time a promising bag was within my sight, and then find a way to keep this switch in the ‘off’ position, I might be able to refrain from…spending all my tips on very temporary thrills, or making blacked-out road trips to Dallas,” she writes. Nearly three decades into her search, Grisel writes that she’s learned the problem is not so much the drugs, per se, but rather the human brain’s powerful ability to respond to the altered chemistry that drugs produce. “There will never be enough drug, because the brain’s capacity to learn and adapt is basically infinite,” reads Never Enough. “What was once a normal state punctuated by periods of high inexorably transforms to a state of desperation that is only temporarily subdued.” While a cure for addiction remains elusive, there’s never been a more urgent need to pursue the question. Opioids alone killed nearly 4,000 people across Canada in 2017, up from roughly 3,000 the previous year, according to Health Canada. In the United States, 47,600 people died after taking opioids in 2017, up from 42,400 in 2016, according to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Use. It’s one of the worst health crises the continent has ever experienced, and there’s no end in sight. With a tidy writing structure that weaves personal anecdotes alongside accessible science, Never Enough describes how the brain of someone addicted to drugs changes as the time they struggle with their drug use drags on. The book focuses on neurochemistry, but Grisel emphasizes that addiction is generally the result of a combination of genetic predisposition, developmental influences, and environmental input. “Since the beginning of when we’ve kept records, people have been using drugs to change the way they feel. So what’s different? Why do we have so much addiction now?” Grisel asks. “Isolation. Generally, in our distant history, it [drug use] was a communal activity, with spiritual or at least cultural overtones. It was something people did together. So using alone [is what’s different].” Grisel’s measured take on drugs means it’s not all bad news for everyone who enjoys a little help to keep the party going. “To the banker who uses cocaine once every four-to-six weeks, I would say, ‘Good for you’. I don’t think that’s so terrible,” Grisel says. “If you are one of these rare individuals that really does well with moderation—and that does sound pretty moderate if you’re just doing a little coke—ya, I think that is all right.” The problem is that for so many people, the brain’s adaptive nature makes moderation so difficult. “Luxuries become habits, habits become compulsions, and compulsions become addictions,” Grisel says. In addition to the imperative of moderation, the other major piece of advice that Grisel offers in Never Enough is for kids to stay away from drugs. It’s not a “Just say no” message she’s borrowed from the DARE program. There are very real reasons to wait, she explains. “Until you are 25, the brain is still being organized,” Grisel says. “So if you perturb it while it is still being organized—during development—then it alters the organizational structure. Whereas if the basic scaffolding is all laid down, once the pathways are all basically set—which they are sometime between 23 and 25—then you are more-likely to be able to undo it [changes to the brain made by using drugs].” Never Enough also includes lessons that apply to the war on drugs and which can inform North America’s response to the opioid epidemic. For example, Grisel says, it’s time for an honest assessment of criminalization. “If punishment worked, surely we would see diminishing numbers of addicts, and we don’t. We see more and more,” Grisel says. “I think it is alienating, to say to people, ‘You are bad and you’ve got to not be bad and we’re going to help you not be bad by doing bad things to you’.” The same sort of logical evaluation led her to support harm reduction at a time when the Ontario government and states such as Washington, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts are debating the merits of supervised-injection facilities like Vancouver’s Insite. “I think supervised injection is a great idea, because I don’t think punishment works,” Grisel says. “I don’t think it condones using. It is just trying to say, ‘Here’s a safe place’. “We should use every strategy we can to support people to be healthy,” Grisel continues. “It’s not like we’re going to teach people not to use by letting them die. That won’t work.”

  20. 5 out of 5

    Polly

    A compelling, important read offering a uniquely new perspective of addiction.

  21. 5 out of 5

    LEIITIS

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. From start to finish this was such a beautifully, complex, insightful memoir/scientific book on addiction. Grisel has such a way with words. The writing alone is a reason to read it. She ties in her own experience with addiction while describing in detail the mechanisms behind different drugs: stimulants, alcohol, psychedelics, THC, opiates and some others. She delivers many moments of comic relief throughout the story which was a major plus for me. What separates her book from most other pop sc From start to finish this was such a beautifully, complex, insightful memoir/scientific book on addiction. Grisel has such a way with words. The writing alone is a reason to read it. She ties in her own experience with addiction while describing in detail the mechanisms behind different drugs: stimulants, alcohol, psychedelics, THC, opiates and some others. She delivers many moments of comic relief throughout the story which was a major plus for me. What separates her book from most other pop science books is that she touches on intersectionality: culture, environment, epigenetic, technology, and history place major roles in addiction. Her personal stories also have her work a touch of uniqueness and authenticity. There were multiple aha moments where I would read a paragraph and just go, “I need to read that again” or “I need this posted on my bedroom wall”. I found the last two chapters and the ending of “Stimulants” particularly fascinating just because she touched on compassion and our cultural problem with rejecting in society what we reject in ourselves. What I took away from this book was several things. One, addiction is a complex issue that when discussed seems to be missing context. Two, we are living in a culture of scarcity and isolation; as we separate from each other and exploit each other we create a need for drugs and feelings of euphoria to displace stress and other environmental issues. Three, because the brain (as well as the body) is always trying to maintain homeostasis drugs have a bidirectional relationship with the brain. The brain is always going to work to adapt to the drug acting on it which will then create a low for every high—what she calls the b process. Five, addiction is a problem we all contribute to. Cons: You have to take notes with this book because the material is very hard to digest and understand at first glance. I found it incredibly dense and broad and would have liked more of a focus on cell and molecular biology. I would have like more drawings and diagrams as well but I’m more of a visual person. The language also made me feel that this book was for an esoteric group of individuals (but exposed me to a plethora of new words). My favorite quote: “I don’t think I was basically a good person who got mixed up with a bad crowd, for instance, or that I was somehow dealt a crummy hand in terms of genes or neurochemistry, parents, or personal history (though these are all certainly had an influence). I also don’t think that I am essentially worse than or even different from others: not those spending down their allotment of days under bridges, or prisons, or for that matter managing PTAs or running for public office. All of us face countless choices, and there is no bright line separating good and bad, order and entropy, life and death. Perhaps as a result of following rules or conventions, some live under the delusion that they are innocent, safe, or deserving of their stays as well-fed citizens. But if there is a devil, it lives inside each of us. One of my greatest assists is knowing that my primary enemy is not outside me, and for this I am grateful to all my experiences. We all have the capacity for wrong; otherwise we could not, in fact, be free” (13).

  22. 5 out of 5

    Judy G

    I cannot say enough praise for this book and the author Judith Grisel. I think she wants to downplay how she transformed herself and her life and her relationships as the book memoir is not intended as having that theme of Recovery. I myself was not a drug addict and yet I was someone who smoked a lot of marijuana or dope or weed years ago. More important for me is that I worked for seven years in the drug treatment area at VA Hospital in the bay area CA. I worked with alcoholics and heroin addi I cannot say enough praise for this book and the author Judith Grisel. I think she wants to downplay how she transformed herself and her life and her relationships as the book memoir is not intended as having that theme of Recovery. I myself was not a drug addict and yet I was someone who smoked a lot of marijuana or dope or weed years ago. More important for me is that I worked for seven years in the drug treatment area at VA Hospital in the bay area CA. I worked with alcoholics and heroin addicts in outpatient and inpatient programs. Dr Grisel has provided us the lay people with an extensive output of the various classification of drugs that often entrap people. She has studied and worked in Neuroscience for I think 30 years in various places in US. She is providing us with extremely valuable information of the drugs and the dangers of their use leading to abuse and addiction. Stimulants psychedelics benzos and opiates and barbs and sedative hypnotics. The basic message about the drugs is that each one goes round from solving the problem of anxiety and sleeplessness and depression to recreating the problems so one is caught up in a maelstrom once this begins. She herself from a young age to probably mid 20s was herself a serious addict of alcohol marijuana coke and psychedelics. What I gather since this book is not about her Recovery is that what turned her around was her father's love and recognition of her and realization from another addict that she would never have enough of any of these drugs. This is also a very technical book and Dr Grisel does not go all out to simplify the facts about the drugs and what draws people to them and concurrently damages them immeasurably. Judy

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I have mixed feelings about this book. I'm interested in the physiology, psychology, and sociology of addiction. The author covers that, I assume well, up to the current state of the art, which is that we don't know near as much as we'd like. I guess that's obvious; as a culture, we are not very good at helping individual addicts or lowering the number of people sinking into addiction. It's interesting to read the mechanisms by which different drugs make people high. I liked the graphs and explan I have mixed feelings about this book. I'm interested in the physiology, psychology, and sociology of addiction. The author covers that, I assume well, up to the current state of the art, which is that we don't know near as much as we'd like. I guess that's obvious; as a culture, we are not very good at helping individual addicts or lowering the number of people sinking into addiction. It's interesting to read the mechanisms by which different drugs make people high. I liked the graphs and explanation of how the brain uses opposing processes to dampen the effects of various drugs. The author describes the effects of a comprehensive list of drugs. On the other hand, her descriptions of her own times as an addict were disconcerting. She seemed to glory in how low she'd descended. It made the book easier to read, as those parts were easy. But then she'd jump straight into a technical description of neurological processes without giving enough background for someone who is not acquainted with the physiology to understand. She also admitted that she doesn't comprehend how some people can use drugs with moderation; she seems to consider those of us who are like that to be boring. At the same time, I thought she exaggerated the destructive effects of some drugs because it's so hard for her to imagine moderate use. So, for much of the book I kind of disliked her. In the last chapter, "Solving Addiction," however, she redeemed herself in my eyes. Of course, she didn't come up with a solution, but she took a good (if short) look at how problems in our culture would have to be worked on to ameliorate the causes of addiction.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I liked how the book included the author's own experience with addiction. It made the book more personal and less academic. The author got into the field of neuroscience to find a cure for addiction, because of her own experiences. The book's main focus is on what is known about how addiction is formed and the changes that occur to a human brain as a result. The book explains how each specific type of drug affects the person taking it and how the addiction is formed. Anyone who is thinking of tak I liked how the book included the author's own experience with addiction. It made the book more personal and less academic. The author got into the field of neuroscience to find a cure for addiction, because of her own experiences. The book's main focus is on what is known about how addiction is formed and the changes that occur to a human brain as a result. The book explains how each specific type of drug affects the person taking it and how the addiction is formed. Anyone who is thinking of taking Ecstasy should read this book before doing so - repeated use damages the brain permanently. You'll end up like Jim from the 80's TV show Taxi. The book doesn't answer the question of how to stop addiction from happening or cover much about the rehabilitation of addicts. Basically, the only way to make sure you don't become an addict is to avoid taking drugs, drinking alcohol or smoking in the first place. You won't know you've become addicted until it is too late. And once that happens there is no easy fix.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cymric

    I read this book straight through in a weekend. It is a fascinating and methodical examination of drugs by category, such as depressants, hallucinogens, stimulants, cigarettes, marijuana, and so on. Grisel shows how these drugs affect brain function, and offers fascinating insights into phenomenon such as how the brain strives to maintain homeostasis, which means that many drugs lose their effect over time. She also looks into the genetic, physical, social and psychological factors that cause so I read this book straight through in a weekend. It is a fascinating and methodical examination of drugs by category, such as depressants, hallucinogens, stimulants, cigarettes, marijuana, and so on. Grisel shows how these drugs affect brain function, and offers fascinating insights into phenomenon such as how the brain strives to maintain homeostasis, which means that many drugs lose their effect over time. She also looks into the genetic, physical, social and psychological factors that cause some people to abuse drugs. This is a very personal, (Grisel herself having abused drugs) and at the same time scientific, analysis of a wide array of psychotropic drugs. I found the brief description of her study of alcohol abuse in indigenous communities poignant--she expected to find a genetic predisposition to alcohol abuse, but found none, concluding that the historic abuses suffered by indigenous peoples were entirely to blame.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lupe

    I like books that make me feel like a 17 year old geeky boy diving into stuff only mildly mentioned in the biology and chemistry textbooks. Yes, partly because I wasn’t, but also because of the accessibility and the lightness with which Prof. Judith Grisel dwells on the serious and complex topic of substance addiction. Sure, foreknowledge of human physiology helps, actually a lot. But the better part is the personal story, numerous first-hand examples and references of consequences and origin eve I like books that make me feel like a 17 year old geeky boy diving into stuff only mildly mentioned in the biology and chemistry textbooks. Yes, partly because I wasn’t, but also because of the accessibility and the lightness with which Prof. Judith Grisel dwells on the serious and complex topic of substance addiction. Sure, foreknowledge of human physiology helps, actually a lot. But the better part is the personal story, numerous first-hand examples and references of consequences and origin eventualities, foremost her own thoughts and alluring style to follow her philosophy and criticism, and they don‘t require a passed course on neuropharmacology. The larger part though is brief explanation of the neurophysiological mechanisms of addictive drugs. For some it could be tedious, but for me is quite interesting, given how she handles everything through what she had lived and deepens more into the "experience" side of the addiction.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Elysse

    This entirely scientific while also completely relevant novel taught me a lot about addiction from the perspective of a neuroscientist, but also from a former addict. Grisel knows exactly how it feels to go through addiction, and yet understands it not just as a crisis but as a scientific phenomenon. Grisel talks about her experiences and the experiences of others, and talks about traditional drugs, not just those harder drugs that we associate with drug epidemic. There's a lot more to be addict This entirely scientific while also completely relevant novel taught me a lot about addiction from the perspective of a neuroscientist, but also from a former addict. Grisel knows exactly how it feels to go through addiction, and yet understands it not just as a crisis but as a scientific phenomenon. Grisel talks about her experiences and the experiences of others, and talks about traditional drugs, not just those harder drugs that we associate with drug epidemic. There's a lot more to be addicted to, including anxiety medication, which I myself take. The majority of us do take some type of drug, and it's important to understand the neurological implications of these drugs that the pharmaceutical companies are not telling you. This is a very important read for all adults, and parents who have children with ADHD and other mental disorders that might be utilizing medications.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I love the way this book combines science and memoir to create a compelling narrative of substance abuse. I found the neuroscience of the different classes of drugs fascinating, especially the chapter on psychedelics. One quote that particularly resonated with me was "the coffee addict does not drink coffee because she is tired; she is tired because she drinks coffee." Although I don't see myself kicking my coffee habit any time soon, I definitely understand now why I feel so cranky before I tur I love the way this book combines science and memoir to create a compelling narrative of substance abuse. I found the neuroscience of the different classes of drugs fascinating, especially the chapter on psychedelics. One quote that particularly resonated with me was "the coffee addict does not drink coffee because she is tired; she is tired because she drinks coffee." Although I don't see myself kicking my coffee habit any time soon, I definitely understand now why I feel so cranky before I turn on the Keurig every morning! Learning about the a- and b-processes that the brain undergoes during and after the use of substances was illuminating, and I believe that taking this dive into the science of drug abuse gave me a profound new empathy for people struggling with addiction--which was a main goal of the author's.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Yet another book read after being impressed with an author interview on Fresh Air - was not disappointed. Grisel doesn't water down the science end of it, but doesn't let it get too deep for the average, non-neuroscientist reader. Another big plus for me is that she doesn't get "preachy" - she relates her own story of addiction as reference, but never acts judgmental and in fact offers the view that love and compassion are truly the best ways to deal with addicts and addictions. My interest in t Yet another book read after being impressed with an author interview on Fresh Air - was not disappointed. Grisel doesn't water down the science end of it, but doesn't let it get too deep for the average, non-neuroscientist reader. Another big plus for me is that she doesn't get "preachy" - she relates her own story of addiction as reference, but never acts judgmental and in fact offers the view that love and compassion are truly the best ways to deal with addicts and addictions. My interest in the book comes as I continue to try and cut back on my own alcohol use - it helps to gain insight into why we are drawn to our vices and feel withdrawal when they are taken away. A very good read for someone (like me) with an avid interest in brain science, but a must read for someone dealing with a drug dependence or a loved one with a harmful addiction.

  30. 4 out of 5

    LuAnn

    A powerful combination of lucid writing, personal experience and neurochemistry that covers the gamut of addictive drugs including the legal ones, alcohol and tobacco. Grisel’s use of metaphor and personification inject a liveliness to the serious neuroscience which she keeps at a level understandable to laypeople. If I was tempted to do drugs, reading this book would cure me as she recounts the brain’s efforts at homeostasis that oppose their initial affect and encourage addiction, other impact A powerful combination of lucid writing, personal experience and neurochemistry that covers the gamut of addictive drugs including the legal ones, alcohol and tobacco. Grisel’s use of metaphor and personification inject a liveliness to the serious neuroscience which she keeps at a level understandable to laypeople. If I was tempted to do drugs, reading this book would cure me as she recounts the brain’s efforts at homeostasis that oppose their initial affect and encourage addiction, other impacts on neurochemistry and stories of her life using and friends' lives that didn’t end nearly as well as hers has. I have to reread and think about her concluding chapter which doesn’t offer easy, pat solutions to addiction but challenges our failed efforts and collective responsibility.

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