Addiction: HBO

In our talk about addiction we did a lot of reading. We read the statistics, the graphs and the biographies. One thing that we did not do was watch experiences of people with addiction.  I have always found it profound to watch documentaries on social problems such as addiction. Not to knock on reading papers, but I am lazy and I enjoy listening to others talk. I found a great cite with wonderful information and documentaries on specifically addiction related topics. I watched a few episodes and I suggest if you ever want to see and learn about addiction without reading go to this website:

This website is so comprehensive in terms of documentaries about addiction. There are episodes that infiltrate all levels of addiction from hospitals surgery rooms, addiction and marriage, addiction and family, and different types of addictions as well as brain imaging videos.  I am a fan of the cite. Go and watch a few episodes they are not long.

I decided to watch an episode about the science of relapse. In class I remember that it was mentioned that relapse occurred very often. I found it rather depressing that relapsing is almost a guarantee for those who have been addicts. In this episode rightly titled, “the science of relapse” I wanted to understand relapse a little better. The documentary follows different characters and had them explain their reasons for relapsing. Here are some quotes from the episode that are of interest:

“Relapse is part of the disorder,” they can’t just stop because “at the level of the brain there are a lot of cards stacked against the individual fighting relapse,” “brain plays a trick…that leaves out decision making,” “the stop system of the frontal lobe does not communicate with the ‘go’ system,” “the ‘go’ system goes rogue,” ” the trigger is when I walk out and open my eyes and sees”

…”its all about ‘go'” One of the interesting things about this video is that they talk about the reward system and how sensitive it is to cues. The reward system, specifically the ‘go’ part that this woman describes is said to run under the radar of the “stop” system. According to the video the reward and “go” part of the circuit can be activated extremely fast in fact it has been shown  to be activated by stimulus present as quick as 33milli seconds.

the video clarifies why relapse occurs so frequently. Since only 10% of addicts get treatment; which is aimed at changing their believes and behaviors, the 90% group of addicts not in treatment are faced daily by their triggers. These triggers can occur fast and even implicitly without the individual knowing and their “stop” response has no time of working.


5 thoughts on “Addiction: HBO

  1. Duy,
    interesting post…
    haha. The science of relapse is interesting. I wonder if certain personality traits make you more vulnerable to addiction in the first place and thus, make you more likely to fall back into a relapse state after withdrawal. Maybe its that people who are low in conscientiousness, low in neuroticism, and low in agreeableness are more predisposed to falling into an addiction. With the help of family and friends, they are pushed into rehab and in turn withdrawal. However, there personality traits haven’t changed. And when exposed to the stimulus, they will relapse. Are the doomed from the womb??! Maybe something to explore….
    yours truly, nani


  2. This post caught my attention because it talks about clips of real people. Sometimes I feel as though when I am in class I am learning facts and forgetting that we are learning about human brains and behavior. It was very interesting when we learned what drugs do in the brain and how they affect neurotransmitters and receptors, but it would have been interesting to see specific cases of addiction problems. We could relate the symptoms the person reports or displays to why and how these are occuring based on what we learned. What we learn about really does occur in people, and it is very interesting when you think about it from a perspective where you always think about the occurances as parts of people rather than just processes.


  3. Duy these videos are very interesting because they are able to put the issues of relapse into plain terms. They talk about the reward system in a way that anyone can understand. This is so important for educating people who are not specialist in this field or have background in any neuroscience. It is so interesting to see real people dealing with these issues… they are not just textbook worthy they are real life for many people. Great post!


  4. i’ve seen this show before–definitely very interesting! I also think that the show Intervention is an interesting depiction of how families deal with addiction, and show the effect that it can have on more than just the user.


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