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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

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  1,705 ratings  ·  155 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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Average rating 4.03  · 
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 ·  1,705 ratings  ·  155 reviews

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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
Kathy Leland
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
Jul 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Excellent biography about a former drug user who started 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
Jørgen Weidemann
Oct 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-corona
+ Written by an actual drug addict, now a professor in psychology
+ Interesting to read about addiction from the addicts point of view mixed with theory

- The theory is rather complex
- I get the feeling that some of the proposed facts are his own views and might be conclusions based on own research and convictions

Notes in its content:
The story shows how fragile teens are and how people can seem to do perfectly well for a long time, before falling off the cliff with few escape options. The author s
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Solid storytelling with intermittent pauses to explain all the chemical and addiction processes the brain goes through with each. Though the formula could get a bit repetitive, the stance on the brain's ability to change unhealthy habits is encouraging. ...more
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Not many scientists are able to integrate science and lived experience/narrative writing in a way that doesn't either patronizingly oversimplify or assault you with jargon, but I think here it's very well done. ...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.
Ashlynn Faulkner
Apr 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing memoir with scientific facts about the brain processes surrounding addiction that the author makes easy to understand!
Aug 09, 2019 rated it liked it
This is an interesting read. The science is fairly easy to grasp and his story of addiction and depression is relatable.
Feb 13, 2020 rated it liked it
4 stars: the story is human, the neuro facts are accurate.

2 stars: being an addict doesn't make you a writer, being a scientist doesn't make you a writer.

I wanted to add something positive or kind, but I'm in want of words. *Here*, something positive and kind.
Apr 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mind, standouts, canadian
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

Giang Nguyen
This book is a brilliant memoir, both in Lewis' crazy and diverse drug adventures and his attempts to make neuroscientific pieces of knowledge more accessible to the public. However, I let my subjective view downrate the book.

As much as I respected the author, an immense feeling of despise for that teenager, that young adult arose. The more chapters I read, the more intolerant I felt toward him, though I should have known the brain of an addict better. Coming from the country that was only ment
Toby Mustill
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book overall. Marc takes us through his life of academics and addiction. He explains his own experiences from a unique perspective of insight that no one else could possibly have. I have certainly learned more about addiction having read this book!

Two, fairly small objections/negative thoughts on this one:

1. The book lacks a particular vigor, there’s no real enlightenment moment which I guess not all books must have.

2. This book is flawed when looking at the greater realm of addic
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.
Harrison Rip
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
I've never read a book I thought was dangerous until this one. His descriptions of drug use make even non-addicts want to try heroin, but the whole book is about how horrible drug addiction is. I can't think of ANYONE who should read this, because it makes you want to use dangerous addictive drugs, while reminding you why you shouldn't. ...more
Stephanie Grady
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book. It was both thrilling and educational. This book made me want to study science and here I am 4 years later studying science. Marc Lewis' story is truly inspirational, from a drug addict who could barely hold down a job or maintain a relationship to now one of the leading neuroscientists in drug rehabilitation. ...more
Edward Taylor
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psychology
Wow. As a recovering addict, I have been looking for something that I can wrap my mind around in regard to the addicted brain and how it comes into being. We all have the same drugs in our systems that people add to themselves and become addicted to, this is what causes the addiction to things like illicit and prescribed medications. We get an extreme boost to these chemicals and our body receives a positive response of the drugs and craves more. When we don't give that to it, the mind and the b ...more
Nov 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Marc Lewis has the unusual experience of having sampled many different kinds of drugs, become a heroin addict who was driven to criminal activities and arrested for it, was able to continue his interest in neuroscience to an advanced degree in spite of all that and then have years of research experience in neuroscience to give a unique perspective looking back on his earlier life. The teacher in him comes out when at any opportunity in this memoir, he gives scientific explanations for what is ha ...more
Kailynn S.
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As an up and coming neurobiologist, I found this story to be one of the best I have read concerning addiction and the neurobiology of drugs. The diagrams, explanations and very specific biological information was intertwined with a real, crippling story of a man facing years of addictive practices. Lewis does something none of the other drug addiction memoirs I have come across were able: combine science with reality.

Sometimes reading stories of addiction make it seem like some far fetched notio
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
Derek Frasure
Mar 24, 2021 rated it liked it
The neuroscience of addiction is the useful part of this book. Lewis has an interesting, though hardly relatable narrative (he seemingly spend many years of his life scarcely working while traveling and doing a mountain of drugs, yet he's never even slightly touched with poverty, always living somewhere luxurious, and his arrests carry no material consequences). He acknowledges his privilege a few times, so I can forgive that. But his descriptions of the mentally ill are grotesque and completely ...more
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
Feb 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
I am trying to make sense of my own addiction, and also (half-heartedly) trying to release myself from it's grip. Part of the effort was a massive list of books requested from the library and having to come clean with my therapist about my behavior in a honest way.

This book made it on the list, and it was very interesting. I loved to see the author's life story told with the addition of brain diagrams and explanations of nuero-mechanisms which leave humans so vulnerable to addiction. It was als
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’m usually not a fan of memoirs but this one won me over. Part of that may be that, being from the Bay Area originally, a lot of this book was so nostalgic for me, even though it took place several decades before I was born. But more than that, it was funny and tragic and hella interesting. I had a bit of a love hate relationship with the really neurosciency parts to be completely honest. They were well written and easy to understand (I don’t think you would need to have any background in neuro ...more
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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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