STARRED REVIEW
March 2019

Never Enough

By Judith Grisel

A timely, educational blend of neuroscience and memoir, Judith Grisel’s Never Enough tackles the devastating problem of addiction.

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A timely, educational blend of neuroscience and memoir, Judith Grisel’s Never Enough tackles the devastating problem of addiction. Current statistics speak to a dire state of affairs: Nearly 16 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 12 fits the criteria for substance abuse disorder. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared our current opioid epidemic to be a public health emergency. Drawing from her own experience as a recovering drug addict, Grisel is uniquely positioned to study the neuroscience of addiction. She understands both the allure of drugs and the devastation they leave in their wake. Indeed, it seems that the way she has managed to stay sober for over 25 years is to make the study of addiction her life’s work. Now a professor and scientist, Grisel is a compassionate and empathetic guide to the hard science behind drug use.

Chapter by chapter, Grisel examines the effects of different drugs on the human brain: alcohol, marijuana, stimulants, tranquilizers and psychedelics. Unfortunately for users, most of these operate by the “opponent process theory,” the idea that any stimulus to the brain will eventually be neutralized into its opposite. Simply put, the high gives way to the low. The brain adjusts to the dosage, and the withdrawal lasts longer than the desired effect, creating a vicious cycle of dependency and diminishing returns.

How is it that some people can enjoy a drink and stop, while addicts can never have enough of their chosen substances? The answer involves genetics, environmental and social context and significant exposure to drugs, particularly during adolescence as the brain is developing. There are no easy solutions to the problems of addiction, but Grisel suggests that knowledge and kindness can go a long way.

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Never Enough

Never Enough

By Judith Grisel
Doubleday
ISBN 9780385542845

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