Addiction. Judith Grisel knows its effects firsthand.
She knows because she was an addict before becoming a neuroscientist, and she writes about it in her book, “Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction.”
“When I was 23, in July 1986, I had heard if I wanted to live, I couldn’t use,” Grisel said. “I thought there’s no way I could fix the problem. It seemed plausible that I could fix it with just my brain. It turned out it was about five or six years on the road to recovery.”
Grisel is a behavioral neuroscientist with an expertise in pharmacology. Her genetics research focuses on determining the causes of drug addiction. She is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania.
She will be speaking and signing books at two events at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science on Thursday, Aug. 22, and Friday, Aug. 23. Preregistration is encouraged at nmnaturalhistory.org.
The lecture is in conjunction with the museum’s current exhibits “Drugs: Costs and Consequences” and “Brain: The Inside Story.”
Grisel’s journey has been one filled with peaks and valleys.
She was a daily drug user and college dropout when she became determined to find a cure for her addiction.
After studying the brain for 25 years as a neuroscientist, she shares her knowledge with the public.
Her book “Never Enough” reveals her personal insights about how drugs work, how they affect the brain, and how to combat addiction.
“I never thought I was the type to write a book,” she says. “Most things I had written prior to ‘Never Enough’ were papers for school or scientific publications. Those are short pieces.”
Then, one day, the idea for the book popped into her head, and she let it marinate for about 10 years.
When she started writing, Grisel didn’t know how she was going to strike a balance between personal experiences and professional findings.
She began writing the project in Italy, while on sabbatical.
“I came home with five chapters,” she said. “The last couple chapters were hard to write, because that’s the personal part. I thought it would get taken out by my editor. It adds another dimension to what I’m telling people about.”
Grisel looks forward to speaking with groups around the country.
She’s boiled her knowledge down to one simple phrase.
“Everybody is susceptible to addiction,” she said. “There tends to be a belief that some people are that way and they just can’t handle it. It’s in our interests to look at the causes and the contributions to avoid it. A lot of people fall into it, and most start with pain medication. My goal is sharing my story while explaining the fundamental properties of the brain. I want people to understand how you can become addicted.”