Earlier this month, NOVA tackled a topic that makes the headlines on a seemingly daily basis: addiction. Noting that overdose is the number one cause of death among adults under 50, the episode features numerous researchers and physicians, including Stanford neuroscientist Robert Malenka, MD, PhD, and Anna Lembke, MD, director of addiction medicine, who describe the science behind addiction and detail how it can take over a person’s life.
“Individuals struggling with addiction are actually battling millions of years of evolution, because our brains are exquisitely evolved to seek rewards, to seek reinforcement wherever and whenever we can,” explains Malenka.
Patients and family members, including a man named Mark, are also on hand to share drugs’ devastating toll. “Many times I would lay my head on a pillow and think ‘I’m done, I can’t live like this, I don’t want to be this person,'” he says. “And I would wake up the very next day and I would just do more drugs. I was powerless over my addiction – it consumed me, it owned me, I was a slave to it.”
The episode is a moving, important one, and it reminds viewers that addiction is “not a moral failing, but a chronic, treatable medical condition.”
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