Memoirs of an addicted Brain.
Memoirs of an addicted Brain. A neuroscientist examines his former life on drugs. Marc Lewis PHD.
I have been reading a lot about addiction since I decided to start blogging again and this book was fascinating. It is certainly not a self-help book and was never intended to be. It is a journey through addiction which takes place over many years in different places and under a variety of circumstances, with a wide range of substances being used. In more or less every chapter, there is an examination of what happens to the brain when it meets a substance, that triggers a chemical reaction.
I have become interested in how the brain works over the past few years after going through a period of self-examination and studying mindfulness. I became interested in feedback loops and how they affect craving and have read about this before so was naturally interested in this book. Having said that I have to say that it would be a good read for people who have or are experiencing cravings as it really explains the scientific process in a way that somebody like myself can relate to.
There are many stories of close shaves as a result of the crazy lifestyle that the addict lives, which add a lot of realism to the descriptions and circumstances of taking various drugs.
He also explains what the differerent chemicals and parts of our brains actually do. I was surprised to learn that serotonin actually works like a braking system and dampens and regulates neuronal firing, in a way that allows us to filter input from the outside world without being overwhelmed. LSD takes over receptor sites normally activated by serotonin and this results in no regulation, and the doors of the mind are really opened wide. I had thought of serotonin as some kind of “happy” molecule at one time, but this is not the case.
Marc has done a great job of contrasting the inner workings of the brain with the outside world in a way that is personal, which is very unusual, as most books by neuroscientists would not have this type of perspective. He provides a great explanation for the workings of an addicted mind which is so different from the ineffective disease theory model that is often pushed by those in the 12 step traditional recovery world. This whole debate has become controversial over the past few years as many still cling on to old out of date ideas, rather than accept that progress has been made in understanding how brains react to stimulation of various types, including drugs.
I hope this book will be read by many and that they will be provoked to question the traditional explanations that have not helped people find effective solutions. It certainly provides a more interesting and rational explanation than those I have heard from many in the”recovery” industry. I did not live quite as wild a lifestyle as Marc,(I did not break into drug stores etc) but I have tried most of the substances a few times and can certainly relate to power of cravings. It was great to have an explanation of what was taking place in the soft fleshy computer between my ears! The book is very well written and certainly unique. I will certainly be reading more about how my brain functions in the future!
He has a great blog which often provokes good discussion here http://www.memoirsofanaddictedbrain.com/blog/Google+