316. Understanding Addiction with Judith Grisel

Addiction is a frightening disorder with complex root causes, affecting a staggering one in every five people over the age of 14. To explore the intricate nature of addiction, we invited Dr. Judith Grisel, a renowned psychology professor at Bucknell University and the author of Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction, to the conversation.

What makes this conversation so powerful is not only Dr. Grisels wealth of knowledge but also her ability to explain complicated ideas in such a relatable way. And what’s even more remarkable is her own history with substance abuse and how, with effective treatment and understanding, she embarked on her own thirty-plus-year road to recovery. 

Combining science-based understanding with learned experience, Judith explains how addiction affects the brain, the social, psychological, and genetic factors that play a part, as well as the value of de-stigmatization, support, and early treatment. Whether you or someone you love has been impacted by addiction, her insights and transformational story are sure to provide guidance and hope.

Listen and Learn: 

  • Judith details her own experience with substance abuse and explains what it did for her on a psychological level
  • What is the link between genetic liability and substance use during adolescent years that makes individuals more susceptible to addiction?
  • Why the use of drugs is not a moral weakness
  • Can even moderate use of alcohol be detrimental to your health and well-being? 
  • The neurological process that happens when it comes to addiction 
  • The turning point that motivated Judith’s road to recovery
  • Why support, early treatment, and curiosity could be the keys to your recovery 
  • Are some drugs harder to quit than others? 
  • The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety; it’s freedom
  • What can society do to combat the underlying causes of addiction?


About Judith Grisel

Dr. Judith Grisel is a behavioral neuroscientist with a particular interest in addiction. Her research attempts to identify psychological and genetic factors that lead some people to develop drug addictions while others in similar circumstances do not. Grisel’s work is inspired by her own personal experience with addiction, a struggle she chronicled in her book Never Enough, The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction. The work, which appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for science books, established Grisel as a leading expert on the science of substance abuse. That reputation earned her an invitation to speak on addiction panels at the 2020 World Economic Forum.

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1 comment
  • I used to be one of those who, though sympathetic, would look down on those who’d ‘allowed’ themselves to become addicted to alcohol and/or illicit ‘hard’ drugs. Yet I, albeit not in the hard-drug category, have suffered enough unrelenting ACE/PTSD-related anxiety to have known, enjoyed and appreciated the great release upon consuming alcohol and/or THC.

    The greater the drug-induced euphoria or escape one attains from its use, the more one wants to repeat the experience; and the more intolerable one finds their sober reality, the more pleasurable that escape should be perceived. By extension, the greater one’s mental pain or trauma while sober, the greater the need for escape from reality, thus the more addictive the euphoric escape-form will likely be.

    It’s a most tragic fact that many chronically addicted people won’t miss this world if they never wake up. It’s not that they necessarily want to die; it’s that they want their pointless corporeal suffering to end.

    Nevertheless, neglecting and therefore failing people struggling with debilitating drug addiction should never be an acceptable or preferable political or religious option. But the more callous politics that are typically involved with lacking addiction funding/services tend to reflect conservative electorate opposition, however irrational, against making proper treatment available to low- and no-income addicts.

    Fortunately, the preconceived erroneous notion that drug addicts are simply weak-willed and/or have committed a moral crime is gradually diminishing.

    Undoubtedly, international merchants of the drug-abuse/addiction scourge must be targeted for long-overdue political action and justice. But western pharmaceutical corporations have intentionally pushed their own very addictive and profitable opiate resulting in immense suffering and overdose death numbers yet got off relatively lightly and only through civil litigation.

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Episode 316