Never Enough | Judith Grisel

Summary of: Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction
By: Judith Grisel


Dive into the fascinating world of addiction with this summary of Judith Grisel’s ‘Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction’. Discover how our brains respond to various stimuli, the role played by the nucleus accumbens – also known as the brain’s reward center, and the neural processes that eventually lead to habituation and dependence. Unravel the different effects of narcotics, such as marijuana, cocaine, and opiates, on our brain and behavior, and explore the genetic and environmental factors that contribute to addiction. Grasp the significance of neuroplasticity in the context of drug use and how adolescents are more susceptible to the perils of addiction.

Addiction and the Brain

In 1954, James Olds and Peter Milner conducted experiments on rats and discovered the brain’s reward center in the nucleus accumbens. Drugs stimulate this region and trigger the release of dopamine, creating pleasurable feelings that lead to addiction. Habituation also plays a significant role as the body balances its systems by releasing hormones or neurotransmitters with the opposite effect of the drug. As addiction develops, going without the drug becomes incredibly challenging.

The Science of THC

Every human has a chemically unique response to drugs, which makes marijuana’s active ingredient, THC, stand apart for its ability to stimulate all regions of the brain. Unlike other drugs, which only act on one specific part of the brain or receptor, THC intensifies all environmental inputs, making all experiences amazing. The brain has receptors stimulated by neurotransmitters like anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, which naturally indicate what is important or relevant in a person’s surroundings. THC attaches to these receptors and imitates anandamide’s actions, making the brain believe everything is amazing. However, this is a problem with marijuana and other drugs because they can lead to addiction. Nonetheless, THC’s effects on the brain make it a unique and entertaining drug.

The Tragic Effects of Opiates

The use of opiates such as heroin, fentanyl, and oxycodone is prevalent in society today. These drugs imitate endorphins, which are the natural painkilling hormones produced by the brain. Although they have pain-subduing properties, opiates have a dangerous downside. After a blissful high, the effects start to wear off, and anti-opiates are produced by the body. These magnify any suffering or pain the user might feel, leading to feelings of emptiness and desperation. To relieve this, the addict is left with only one path: more drugs. The tragic effects of these drugs have a grip on society.

Alcohol’s Dangers

Alcohol, despite being socially acceptable, poses significant health risk and negative actions like sexual assault. Drinking increases beta-endorphin levels, leaving drinkers happy and relaxed in social situations. Individuals with naturally low levels of beta-endorphins are more prone to alcoholism. Excessive drinking can lead to heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, cancers, and reduced life expectancy. In addition, alcohol often leads to inexcusable behaviors like sexual assault, as seen with the 700,000 assaults among college students each year. It’s essential to recognize the dangers of alcohol.

The Chemical Mechanism of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction is caused by the drug’s interference with normal dopamine recycling. By blocking the transporter that takes dopamine back to the initial cell, cocaine prolongs intense feelings of pleasure and creates addiction, leading users to expend all their resources on securing a regular supply.

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