REVIEW: Never Enough by Judith Grisel

In brief: This is about addiction – how your brain acts and the various substances (legal and illegal) that are addictive, from someone who knows both sides.

The good: Very interesting to hear about the science and the experience.

The not-so-good: Would have liked to learn a bit more about some of the user experiences of the newer substances.

Why I chose it: Thank you to Scribe for the copy.

Year: 2019

Pages: 241

Publisher: Scribe Publications

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Never Enough is a solid read, one that you shouldn’t race through but take the time to savour because it’s a unique book. Never have I read a book that combines the theory with the practical, real-life experience when it comes to addiction. Judith Grisel has done just that – taken her own experiences as an addict and added her knowledge as a neuroscientist to produce a truly fascinating read.

Generally if you want to read about illicit drugs and their effects, you can do it in two ways – read the textbook and learn the mechanisms of action, adverse effects and the names that scientists call the drug by. Or you can read the user experiences through a memoir or other means. The two sides of the story of addiction are generally not seen together. It’s really helpful and useful to understand why addicts use and keep on using and how their brain is affected by continued use. The A and B processes Grisel uses to explain how the brain counteracts the effects of drugs is simple to understand and makes a lot of sense. In altering the brain’s baseline with drugs, it affects what the body and brain see as normal and why users keep using – to feel normal rather than seeking a high that is more and more elusive.

After explaining the way the brain is altered through addiction, Grisel then devotes the majority of the book to individual drugs. There are the licit (alcohol, nicotine and caffeine) and illicit, ranging from cannabis to psychedelics and solvents. These chapters are very detailed, explaining how and where these drugs act (interesting to me but possibly not everyone). Grisel also describes her personal experiences with using these drugs (she tried a lot of them, but less of the ‘newer’ agents) which was fascinating to read. She discusses the experiences in lay man’s terms of what the attractive points were to her at the time and how they made her feel (good and bad). It’s not really something you can just ask somebody, so I thought this was really interesting.

The book also discusses the genetics of addiction (scary stuff) as well as the environmental factors. It’s an area that we still don’t really understand and Grisel puts forward some interesting theories as to how the two interact. The final chapter looks at how addiction can be treated and solved, which looks at different options and future choices. With America’s opioid addiction opening the eyes of the rest of the world to their own problems, this book is a timely read that informs the reader from multiple perspectives.

2 thoughts on “REVIEW: Never Enough by Judith Grisel

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  1. This book sounds interesting. It would be unusual to have the discussion from both a professional and personal point of view.

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