A Brief Description of the Neuroscience of Addiction

Many factors can contribute to a person seeking drugs or alcohol in an addictive way—genetics, environment, trauma, co-occurring mental health disorders, and lots of others. What causes someone to drink or use is different for everyone, and often a combination of things. However, the ways addiction changes the brain tend to be consistent from person […]

A Conversation About Shame and Self-Compassion With Neuroscientist Marc Lewis

I had the pleasure of speaking with Marc Lewis over Zoom about addiction, neuroscience, shame, and self-compassion. Lewis is a neuroscientist and professor emeritus in developmental psychology. He is the author or co-author of over 70 journal publications in psychology and neuroscience, and the author of two books. Lewis currently writes for the popular press, blogs, and […]

What is the Reward System?

The reward system is a brain circuit that causes pleasurable feelings when you do something that feels good, such as eat good food, fall in love, or engage in a hobby. When an activity is categorized as pleasurable, the brain responds by producing dopamine. Addiction is said to “hijack” the reward system because drugs and […]

Searching for Dopamine During the Pandemic


As I learn about dopamine’s role in addiction, I understand why I and others in recovery might engage in self-destructive behaviors. Recovery gives us a chance to channel self-destructive tendencies in healthy ways; many of us have worked hard on this. But the COVID-19 pandemic can exacerbate these proclivities, even if we are staying away […]