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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

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,218 Ratings  ·  119 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
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Doubleday Canada
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Jan 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Morgan Blackledge
May 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, memoir
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
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
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,
Daniel Mauck
Mar 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Loved this book. Sometimes could really sense that I was reading the words of an older white man. Scattered sexism/racism in the telling of certain events make the author feel distant to a young or cutting-edge reader. Otherwise fantastic.
Apr 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mind, canadian, standouts
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
Franks V.
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing

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 drugs, sex, love, cigarettes, soap operas, wealth, and wisdom itself. But why should this be so? Why are we desperate for wh

Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is a strange blend. Most of it is straightforward memoir, but it's interspersed with quite detailed scientific information about the brain's functioning and processes as related to addiction. Honestly, I began to skip most of the biology lessons because they seemed so jarringly out of place and distracted from the "story."

The author's addiction was horrific, which he freely acknowledges, but he also seems unaware of some really disturbing ironies in his story: altho clearly very distu
China Darrington
Feb 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Melanie Baker
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
I have a feeling this would be a rather different read, depending on your own experiences and outlook. I have known a number of dealers and addicts and still found myself thinking, a few times, "MAN, did that guy do a lot of drugs!" Really makes you wonder what he'd be like, professionally, now, without that experience.

Overall I really liked the format. As he told his story and described the experiences of the drugs he took and other "adventures", he'd explain the science behind it. What this dr
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.
Dave Grimm
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
People writing about the experience of taking mind-altering drugs have been hobbled by the DeQuincey syndrome, that the more in-depth and accurate your description of the drug's effects, the more likely somebody reading it will want to try it themselves. As a result there really hasn't been much useful information published for those who want to know WHY people would risk their mental and physical health to use drugs like LSD and oxycodone for recreational purposes. All you usually get is a wall ...more
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Крутая идея - совместить дневник наркомана с научными объяснениями процессов, которые происходят в голове при употреблении наркотиков.

Очень интересно следить, как плавно человек погружается в глубину зависимости, из-за чего это происходит и что он при этом испытывает.

Выводы, которые сделал для себя:
- Наркотики эксплуатируют встроенный баг в устройстве человека. Нашему мозгу все равно, откуда получать стимуляцию - из реальных переживаний, или из искусственно синтезированных веществ. Для него это
Jan 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Halfway through this book, I would have given it 5 stars.

Marc's anecdotes are not fascinating, but they are fairly well related and compelling. His neuroscience explanations following each trip are interesting--at first. After a while, it becomes repetitive, and he doesn't add much to the narrative. I feel the science could either be less or more--he's pitched it just wrong, although I admit this is tough to judge when targeting a popular audience.

Fundamentally, I am disappointed. I was expectin
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
An very sincere confession from a past junkie who has used his brain as a chemistry cocktail pool to try the maximum various kinds of drugs.
Each chapter with his story then some brain reaction knowledge on drugs. Very informative! I have great joy reading this at the same time some movies fleshed in my mind "Leaving Las Vagas", "Trainspotting", specially "Scarlet Diva". In this book, the author used vivid language to describe what he saw when the drugs got effects on him, I remember when i watch
Chadwick Fischer
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book taught me a lot about what I was doing to myself in my teenage years, and that understanding was a small part in the puzzle that got me to be open to stopping my use. Entrancing read, the travels, lows, highs (ba-dum-tiss) of his biography would make a novel worth reading alone, coupled with a layman accessible, but not to far dumbed down, description of the neurological reactions to substances it makes it an informative, insightful, and fascinating read for both those who have persona ...more
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Dit boek is er ook in het Nederlands.
Het was heel duidelijk en verhelderend voor mij. Ik had het echt nodig om in te zien hoe het uw hersenen manipuleert om zoetjesaan een gedachten shift te krijgen over bepaalde substanties. Vroeger leken bepaalde drugs iets magisch met mij te doen, nu besef ik dat er gewoon chemisch iets veranderd.
Ik vond het een heel goed boek om die reden. Het leest wel iets minder vlot als een roman.
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, Marc Lewis really did do a hell of a lot of drugs. Amazing not only that he survived, but that he he was able to put out his story for all of us to read. This is a great companion piece to his other book, The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction is not a Disease. Great reading for people who do too many drugs or for their loved ones desperately trying to understand them.
Winslow Morrell
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

It was amazing to make connections between family members and the drug influences they face on a daily basis. It also helped teach me sympathy. I have judged others falsely for so long based on non realistic claims about individuals who have addictions. Super awesome book with a great story of triumph.
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I couldn’t put this book down. I enjoyed the biographical writing and I really liked reading about the brain’s process in addiction. I would have liked more information about the effects of recovery on the brain, but this was a very interesting read.
Rex Tsai
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Deborah Adams
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent book for anyone wanting to understand addiction s.
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved his way of writing. Very poetic and pulls in the reader. Had a hard time with the neuroscience but found it enlightening.
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drugs
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
Sarah Leatherwood
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've never read a book quite like this one before. It may even be the only one of its kind--a book that marries the neuroscience of addiction and the firsthand experience of addiction. The impact it made on me is multifaceted and extremely valuable. This book is now my favorite nonfiction book of all time.

I have always loved reading about substance abuse, and as I've gotten older the study of the brain has become increasingly fascinating to me. Reading this book satisfied in me a thirst I didn't
Jul 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lane Willson
Apr 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
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
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
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Marc Lewis is a neuroscientist and professor of developmental psychology, recently at the University of Toronto, where he taught and conducted research from 1989 to 2010, and presently at Radboud University in the Netherlands. He is the author or co-author of over 50 journal publications in psychology and neuroscience, editor of an academic book on developmental psychology, and co-author of a book ...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
“The cannabinoid receptor system matures most rapidly, not during childhood, not during adulthood, but during adolescence. So it wouldn’t be surprising if cannabinoid activity is meant to be functional during adolescence, more functional than at any other period of the lifespan. As far as evolution is concerned, adolescents might well benefit from following their own grandiose thoughts, goals, and plans. By doing so, and by ignoring the weight of evidence—or sheer inertia—piled up against them, they would greatly amplify their tendency to explore, to try things, to imbue their plans with more confidence than they deserve. The evolutionary goals of adolescents are to become independent, to make new connections, and to find new territory, new social systems, and most of all new mates. The distortions of adolescent thinking might be precisely poised to facilitate those goals.” 1 likes
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