February 12, 201912:50 PM ET
Heard on Fresh Air
Growing up, neuroscientist Judith Grisel would take little sips of alcohol at family events, but it wasn’t until she was 13 that she experienced being drunk for the first time. Everything changed.
“It was so complete and so profound,” she says. “I suddenly felt less anxious, less insecure, less inept to cope with the world. Suddenly I was full and OK in a way that I had never been.”
Grisel began chasing that feeling. Over the years, she struggled with alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. But along the way, she also became interested in the neuroscience of addiction.
“I’m always interested in the mechanisms of things,” she says. “And when I heard that I had a disease, I kind of felt naturally that that would have a biological basis, and I figured that I could study that biological basis and understand it and then maybe fix it.”
Now it has been 30 years without using drugs or alcohol for Grisel, a professor of psychology at Bucknell University, where she studies how addictive drugs work on the brain. Her new book is Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction.