The Addictive Brain

Narrated by: Thad A. Polk
Length: 6 hrs and 19 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (3,329 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Addiction is a problem that affects everyone - even if we haven't experienced addiction ourselves, we all know someone who has. Unfortunately many sources of information about addiction seem inaccessible or irrelevant because they present vague or false science, they present accurate science in an excessively complicated way, or they are more moralistic than informative.

Addiction is sometimes viewed as a failure of character or will or morality. But neuroscience offers a very different picture - one that can inform how we, as individuals and as a society, treat addicts and the problems caused by addiction. These 12 eye-opening lectures will show you that addiction is a scientifically understandable problem that has its origins in neurobiology and genetics.

The Addictive Brain is a fair and balanced investigation of addiction, backed by hard science and behavioral science. Most of us have probably seen the old antidrug commercial in which an actor compares your brain on drugs to an egg sizzling in a hot frying pan. That's a powerful image, but it doesn't tell us what actually happens when drugs enter your body and interact with neurochemical processes.

Professor Polk gives you a comprehensive but concise survey of addiction and the major drugs of abuse, highlighting the differing neurological effects of stimulants, opioids, and more. He also delves into the world of behavioral addictions, such as gambling and compulsive video gaming, which, neurologically, operate very similarly to drug addiction. This course will clearly and compassionately inform you on what addiction means scientifically, socially, and behaviorally.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2015 The Great Courses (P)2015 The Teaching Company, LLC

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Excellent review of the underlying mechanics of all addictions

An intuitive and principled discussion of the physiological and psychological mechanisms of all addictions from overeating, gambling and porn to alcohol and opioids. Treatment by drugs and psychiatry are discussed.

25 people found this helpful

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Excellent.

I've been a psychotherapist for over 30 years. I've been studying and thinking about this stuff for over 40 years. This guy has a clarity that is admirable and a slant on the material that is novel. I never read or listen to books more than once any more. This one made me think. I WILL listen to it again.

148 people found this helpful

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Wonderful start to understanding the neuroscience behind the most destructive behaviors of our time

As a family physician that works in an inner city urban clinic I deal with the consequences of obesity, alcoholism, tobacco, diabetes, violence, and even pornography. When I was in medical school we learned about these as problems but did not learn about the neural pathways of the addiction reward system that impact or directly buttress them.

Dr. Polk does an amazing job of filling in the back story of many of the main behavioral problems we see in primary care. He is fascinating and keeps your attention throughout.

It also would be good for any person seeking better understandings of their addictions/cravings in hopes of renewing the attitudes of their minds. So for me the education had a dual purpose.

He simplifies the basic addiction reward circuits in the brain which can help even a lay person to understand and explain things like tolerance, craving/wanting, and liking/pleasure.

Five stars!!!

20 people found this helpful

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The addictive brain

A wonderful and informative overview of addiction that covers drugs like opiates, amphetamines, alcohol and nicotine, as well as compulsive behaviors like gambling. Not only did I learn a vast amount about the neurological implications of addiction, I became more sensitive to the struggles of addicts to change their behavior. An excellent investment of my time.

37 people found this helpful

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Very interesting and in depth

His was an extraordinary in depth study of the brain, substances and how everything interacted with each other. Wonderful course to listen too. Also offers nice tips on how to combat certain types of addiction.

36 people found this helpful

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I did not want to listen to these lectures

Because I didn't want to give up drinking. But it did a great job of explaining the neurological reasons for all kinds of addictions. I've heard about the alcoholic gene since childhood from my worried mother. but the professor's presentation is clear, fascinating and totally nonjudgmental. He has an engaging personality and obvious curiosity that make complex science digestible. If you are trying to quit anything, listen to this. Let your brain help you heal your brain.

17 people found this helpful

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Great book for anyone

I have a family member who has a major addiction problem and was listening to this to better understand that person. I walked away understanding myself far better. Very very fascinating book if you are an inquisitive person. It's like a feast of interesting information that applies to yourself whether it's behavioral addiction or a medical addiction. Cool course.

94 people found this helpful

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Not an addictive lecture but quite enjoyable

These lectures were great and easy to understand. It was great to learn how each drug and habit alters the brain to cause addiction, tolerance, and what happens when withdrawal occurs.

14 people found this helpful

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Biology of Addictions

Good course. The lectures are given mostly from the perspective of biology or physiology, but also touches on the psychology of it. Presented well, but I was hoping for more a more in depth look at gambling, pornography, and video games. Ironically, these 3 things he covers only briefly at the very end of the course. That being said, it's still a great course about why people become addicted.

35 people found this helpful

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Enlightening and absorbing.

This course exceeded my expectations and has given me insight into understanding the problems and difficulties of those trying to recover from addictions of any kind. I am inspired to listen to it again as it has equipped me to grasp the reasons why recovery from addiction, of many kinds, is so seemingly impossible for some sufferers and knowing what I now know I can be support with confidence and genuine hope. Thank you .

82 people found this helpful

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  • Max
  • 09-03-17

Excellent

Really well-paced series of lectures with a compassionate look at addiction from a thoroughly-researched scientific perspective. While not hugely detailed on methods for overcoming addiction, the overall learnings from this course could definitely help anyone trying to understand the sources of their compulsive behaviours. Professor Polk has a calm and clear way of speaking and he was a pleasure to listen to. Thanks

2 people found this helpful

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  • heidi monro
  • 12-03-18

Fantastic

Wonderful information so interesting unable to stop listening! helps understand many situations and people in our families friends colleagues and community


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  • Lord Peridot
  • 04-25-18

Addiction 101

Great set of lectures as others have noted. Deals with the science of addiction in general as well as the specifics of various legal & illegal substances including coffee, booze and tobacco. Prof. Polk has an excellent style, cheerful, clear and in no way patronising. He's obviously genuinely interested in the subject and seems keen to communicate his knowledge to the rest of us. There is a bit of science here, receptors, neurotransmitters and the like, but Polk keeps it to a minimum, concentrating instead on what the actual effects of drugs are on your mind & body and how you can best deal with any addictions you may be suffering from. Another great set of lectures from the Great Courses.

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  • yenny f wakeham
  • 02-24-18

Eye opener

Super informative. Extremely well presented. Clear, touching but objective. Everyone should be educated of the risks to which we are all exposed in a world of instant gratification.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • chatbear1
  • 02-05-16

a good lidten

Although a bit repefatave ,this was the authors point.all addiction have the same points.my intetetest was keptefin the subect well,with the quality of delivery

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  • Mark
  • 03-02-16

Excellant

From a person who had issues with a lot of these types of things and the way they can make you feel, it's comforting to understand the process.

1 person found this helpful

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  • carlos
  • 07-31-15

A must read

It gives you information that helps you understand addiction and it is easy to understand. You get lots of examples and application suggestions.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kel
  • 08-25-18

Very interesting

The narration was really good and the book was informative. i would recommend it to those wanting to know more about the effect of addictive behaviours and drugs on the brain

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  • Chris
  • 08-28-15

Very good!

A lovely introduction to addiction and neuroscience. The information was brilliant, as was the performance.