A Neuroscientist Explores Addiction, the Brain, and Her Past
Judith Grisel shares her story and science in her book, ‘Never Enough’
By the time Judith Grisel turned 23, it had been years since she had gone so much as a day “without a drink, pill, fix, or joint,” she says now. Homeless in South Florida, Grisel stole credit cards to feed her habit, got kicked out of three colleges, and ultimately began shooting cocaine. At one point, while doing cocaine with a Vietnam vet named Johnny, the man overdosed. His eyes rolled back in his head, and he began convulsing. Grisel’s response? “He probably won’t want his next bump,” she remembers.
As Grisel writes in her new book, Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of Addiction, Johnny didn’t die that day. But decades later, of the three people in his apartment during that overdose, Grisel is the only one still alive.
Now a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, Grisel has been clean and sober for more than 30 years. Her turning point, she says, was the hope that her seemingly hopeless addiction could be solved with science—specifically through understanding the neuroscience of addiction.
OneZero caught up with Grisel and discussed whether addiction is a mental illness, if more psychoactive drugs should become legal, the promise of psychedelics, and more.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.