Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Addictive Brain (The Great Courses: Better Living), by Thad A. Polk (author, narrator)

The Great Courses, March 2015

Addiction is a word that is often tossed around casually, but real addiction is a serious and complex problem. This is a look at what we know about the biological aspects of addiction, the role that human physiology and genetics play in making addiction, and in treating addiction.

Polk starts off by defining what he means by addiction in this book, the stricter definition of actual physical addiction, with continued use of the addictive substance despite serious negative consequences, and often despite a real desire and effort on the part of the addict to quit. Then he explains what's going on in the body, in creating and maintaining addiction. This includes the research in twin studies and in animal models--mostly mice, who are surprisingly genetically similar to us.

Polk also looks specifically at some of our favorite addictive substances (alcohol, tobacco, and nicotine), as well as those that cause us the most public distress and public policy problems (cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, marijuana) (okay, marijuana belongs in both lists, really). They each have their own distinguishing features and problems, but they all also illuminate the larger problem of addiction.

And finally, he also looks at behavior addictions, such as gambling, and why yes, those can be real, physical addictions, too.

He's clear, he's informative, and I found it enormously helpful in increasing my understanding.


I bought this audiobook.

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