Memoirs of an Addicted Brain: A Neuroscientist Examines his Former Life on Drugs
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Memoirs of an Addicted Brain: A Neuroscientist Examines his Former Life on Drugs

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  525 ratings  ·  80 reviews
A gripping, ultimately triumphant memoir that's also the most comprehensive and comprehensible study of the neuroscience of addiction written for the general public.

"We are prone to a cycle of craving what we don't have, finding it, using it up or losing it, and then craving it all the more. This cycle is at the root of all addictions, addictions to...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Doubleday Canada
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I am a little boy rummaging, drawer after drawer. And there are drugs here. So many. Sure enough, drawers full of boxes, piled high, free samples. Must be. And ohhhh, there’s the Demerol. Multidose glass vial: 50 milligrams per millilitre! That’s the strong stuff. Almost full. Now, the apparatus. Drawer full of syringes and needles, each cozy in its wrapper. I am literally chuckling with glee. I am pretending to be Mr. Hyde, or I’m not pretending. You’re fucked, I tell myself. But I’m still smil...more
I loved this book. Lewis is a wonderful writer who does a great job of explaining exactly how the brain responds to various substances. He stepped me through the most intricate feedback loops with patience and explanations I could understand. I was fascinated by the parts about the mechanics of the brain, as I expected to be. I was also riveted by Lewis' own addiction story, which he wove throughout. I want him to write more books about the brain, right away. Highly recommended, if you like this...more
My brain *loves* this book! Marc Lewis parallels his own experience of addiction with hard neuroscience that didn't scare me off! He makes the mechanics, the 'inside' aspects of brain function read like marvelous, magical realism ... and then he gets specific: '*This* drug fires up *these* processes'. His trips on everything from alcohol to heroin to his own neurochemicals of craving dash between the present and past tenses, only to tear off into futures of wanting, scheming, chasing and taking....more
Daniel Mauck
This book is like two books in one. The first is an extremely well-written, gripping narrative of the author's struggle with drug addiction. At various points in the story, the author stops to describe what is happening neurologically, explaining from a biological standpoint his psychological experiences. I found both parts of the book to be extremely compelling. The scientific part is detailed and thorough, but written so that a lay person can understand. It sheds a big light on his experiences...more
China Darrington
This is the estimable Dr. Marc Lewis, who's book "Memoirs of an Addicted Brain" is scheduled for US release tomorrow. I've had the good fortune to read an early copy of the manuscript and I find it brilliant both for Dr. Lewis's ability to capture the cavalier antics of his life as an active addict and at the same time explain the neuroscience behind that cavalier attitude. Suddenly addiction and all its crazy behaviors make *sense*.

Heading south… | Memoirs of an Addicted Brain
Very good combination of readable personal story and the newly proven science of the neurology involved in behaviours of this nature.

Really appreciate the effort of an obviously very knowledgeable author bringing the subject into the realm of the layman.

Thank you. And others around me have learnt from this book. In my dealings with all walks of life, I find myself quoting little bits of this publication.

Sit there quietly at an N.A meeting after reading this and see for yourself.
Excellent biography about a former drug user who stated on grass and alcohol and progressed to heroin and anything else he could steal.
Amazing that he saw the light and was able to stop before causing irreparable damage to his body,
Well, I couldn't get through the book. I'm educated in neuroscience a bit, and everything he said in the book was familiar to me; however, it was mundane. Nothing exciting, although there were some funny parts, there was not enough to keep me interested. Nonetheless, the creative writing was not so creative. Look at it this way, if anyone does not realize that DRUGS are not good for your brain, then you must be brain dead to begin with. I give him credit for getting himself straight, enough to s...more
Morgan Blackledge
Being a Gen Xer, I grew up politely listening to my narcissistic Baby Boomer elders prattle on ad nausem about the "good ol days" of the 60's and 70's. I can't tell you how many times I had to endure comments like "you missed it kid, back then the girls didn't even wear pants". Excuse me old man but OVER SHARE much?

This book really seemed like it was headed in that direction in a big way. I was on full Boomer alert for about the first 3-4 chapters. It's a minor miracle that I persisted through...more
Probably more around 3.5

I have always been interested in reading about drugs, addiction and how it combines with and affects the brain, so when I saw this book in Waterstones in Amsterdam, there was no doubt in my mind that I had to get it.

Unfortunately though, I really struggled with the scientific stuff in the first of half of this book - maybe it was because I only read before going to bed so I was too tired to pay too much attention or maybe it was because I haven't studied anything relating...more
This is a schitzophrenic work that reads like both a textbook and the diary of a hopeless addict; and indeed it is both - these two - the neuroscientist/psychologist and addict are (or were) the same person. Both parts are probably not as interesting to the reader, and I must admit I skipped over a bit of the more technical aspects of brain science, but these didn't tend to become too incomprehensible for too long, and I was very glad to have them there - both because they save you from the clau...more
To view my comment in Spanish; click here:
Marc Lewis is now a prestigious university teacher; and he has been that for the last 35 years. However; he was a drug addict when he was young. He is still a drug adict because when a person plays with hard drugs; they are never really cured. You can stop having drugs alright; but the cravings never go away. Drugs are the ticket to happiness and pleasure. Pleasure without effort; love without giving anything. But...more
Lane Willson
The trouble with a harm reduction concept of addiction is that harm is still part of the equation. For a "neuroscientist", someone who supposedly understands the chemical workings of the brain, to tell me that while they have been addicted to opiates, as well as other substances, they now enjoy along with sunsets, walks on the beach, and puppy dogs - martinis; tells me I'm still listening to an addict.

While the trainer might tell us and show us how harmless the tiger is, and the safety of playi...more
Marc Lewis was a drug addict from his late teens and for the most part of his early adulthood. This is his compelling recount of his descent into the dark world of addiction, beginning with cough syrup, to marijuana, and graduating to acid, LSD and heroin. At the age of 30, he finally kicked his addiction, become a graduate student and eventually a professor of development psychology, and then of neuroscience.
A riveting read, Lewis applies his neuroscience knowledge to explain the impact of the...more
Michael Pond
In Memoirs of an Addicted Brain, Marc Lewis brilliantly blends a compelling narrative with an introductory course on neurobiology to show us how the mind and brain of an addict operates. Lewis’ neuroscience expertise and addiction experience gives his voice unique authority. Thank you Mark for helping me make sense of my life, but more importantly, thank you for helping non-addicts understand what happens to us. Your work helps de-stigmatize a wretched illness.

Michael Pond, MSW, RSW (Alcoholic P...more
Carinya Kappler
Memoirs of an Addicted Brain by Marc Lewis
Sharing in the reality of others, especially those who are in trouble or struggling with life in general, seems to provide an irrestible platform for many readers. Although I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, I found the author's journey torturous and sad. For many addicts this journey would not have ended so successfully and peacefully.
However the long battle, the colourful descriptions of feelings, places and people, the loneliness, the anticipati...more
Jocelynne Broderick
This book is part memoir, part textbook. The bits at the start of each chapter are what I love, where he describes his "trips" in detail, and I love hearing about people's trips, I really do. (That's not sarcastic, I laugh to tears when people tell me about it!)

Unfortunately, the parts of the book I want to read about are separated and hidden between pages and pages of neuroscientific analysis of each point of the trip which are way above me and my attention span. Plus, that science-speak is ak...more
Lewis' memoir takes you on a remarkable odyssey through his life and his addictions as well as the neuroscience of addiction, which he explains clearly and lucidly. Remarkably this combination of memoir and scientific work turns out to be a gripping page turner. This well published PhD psychologist reveals a life of shocking addiction and finally crime that boggle the imagination, knowing, of course, how it turns out. From a private New England boarding school to Berkley, CA, to the jungles and...more
Jen O'Brien
I found this book incredibly interesting. A remarkable way to tell a story, a drug addict from his youth, the author talks about his experiences growing up in the 60's and 70's, but can explain the inner workings of what is happening in his brain due to a degree in neuro-science. A great read, but can be a bit daunting when it comes to the parts where he gets technical.
This book is an intriguing mix of 1) an autobiography describing the author's fall into drugs, 2) a detailed first-person account of the effect of various drugs (DXM, pot, acid, cocaine, opium, heroin and various prescription drugs), 3) an introduction of the neurobiology of drug action, the formation of addiction, and the science behind craving and relapse. Written by a professor in Neuroscience, this multidimensional book is a rarity in that it combines the (simplified) science of drug abuse w...more
Stephen Aita
Being a clinical psychology grad student interested in neuropsychology myself, I found this work to be compelling. Dr. Lewis created an informative piece of literature, which illuminates the inter and intrapersonal conflicts that arise with drug addiction. However, the end of the book is rather curious. It appears that Dr. Lewis used drugs excessively over prolonged periods of time, yet he was still able to retain much of his intellectual and academic prowess. I suppose he should consider himsel...more
How often do we get a neurologist tell their tale of addiction with a blow by blow of how neurotransmitters are impacted by drug use/abuse? This is creepy and fascinating read.

Some people in recovery I know, couldn't finish it. They find it triggering. Marc doesn't demonize getting high or the feeling of being stoned. He describes it's attractive allure and likens addiction not to a disease but being more like being in love.

Rumor has it that Marc is working on another book challenging the "dise...more
Wayne Purvis
If I could give this book 6 stars I would. The best addiction memoir I have ever read. A must read for anyone who knows someone, or has struggled with addiction themselves. I'm no neurosceintist but it wasn't hard to grasp the scientific stuff in this book, which is probably about a fifth of it, a couple of pages at the end of each chapter in his life explaining what chemical changes are going on in his brain. The author explains how the brain works and learns, and how essentially addiction is j...more
I had been searching for a book about the roles of neurotransmitters in the brain, and outside of textbooks had found nothing. This book is engaging, the brain chemistry is explained in accessible language, and the context of drug use makes the science seem more relevant. Definitely worth reading.
This is a very interesting book. It is the autobiography of a man who has been addicted to heroin, used most drugs across the spectrum, had overdoses, been arrested, but somewhere along the line became a cognitive neuropsychologist. This means he is able to step aside from the narrative at various points and reflect on his own experience and what the various drugs were doing in a physiological sense. He writes well, both about his own experience and about the addiction process from a more 'clini...more
Lewis follows up each drug experience with an explanation of how the drug works in the brain, which gets a little tedious sometimes (even though initially this is what interested me in the book). In the end, Lewis concludes that "the kinds of drugs we seek stand in for the kinds of needs that have gone unfulfilled" (302-303). I'm not sure that I buy this. But it is noteworthy that after all of this detailed explanation of how specific drugs alter our brains he ends with a self-medication explana...more
I loved this book. It was a candid look at Marc's addictive behaviour through the eyes of his neurological understanding. It strongly influenced my writing of my second major work, Mind Minders, which is yet to find a publisher.
Fascinating book. Gives great insight into the authors life as an addict and the effects the drugs had on him, while also explaining what goes on in the brain itself as each drug takes hold of his system.
Steve Wilson
It was fascinating to read about one man's exploits in the world of drug addiction. Yes, he started as a hippie-dude, smoking cannabis in San Fransisco, but then things escalated into full-blown hardcore drug addiction. It is hard to believe some of the insane things he did to get drugs and feed his habit. I appreciated the fact that he uses up-to-date brain science to describe the stages of intoxication and addiction. This book gave me new insights into drug abuse, addiction, and how we can hel...more
Ash Robjohns
An easy to read and follow part biography, part neuroscience explanation, part self reflection/self help manual. As far as I know a relatively new concept in writing a biography, explaining thoughts and emotions surrounding the authors addictions and the bio-science and how that influences his decisions.
I found Marcs self reflection captivating, and the neuroscience explanations to be informative. I do think they could have been tied in together a little more, however this may have impacted the...more
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“Even when they're not stoned, adolescents live in a world of ideation of their own making and follow trains of thought to extreme conclusions, despite overwhelming evidence that they're just plain wrong” 2 likes
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