Addiction and trust: Marc Lewis at TEDxRadboudU 2013

A former drug addict himself, Lewis now researches addiction. In order to get over ones addiction, he explains, self-trust is necessary.

Unfortunately, self-trust is extremely difficult for an addict to achieve. There are two factors that make it so difficult to get over an addiction: lack of self-control and an inability to put off reward. An addict wants his fix and he wants it now, despite the risk of losing out on a happier, healthier future.

The way to build self-trust, Lewis explained, and get over an addiction is for the addict to begin an internal dialogue with his future self to convince his present self that it can, in fact, live without its addiction.

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‘Talking to the Dalai Lama about addiction’ by Marc Lewis

rsz_dalai_lamaCan you imagine it, talking to the Dalai Lama about addiction? Well, it happened to some lucky people in the field recently, including Marc Lewis. I suggest that you read Marc’s blog directly, since you can see some photos and comments.

‘I got back yesterday around noon. What a relief it was to be home! India is overwhelming in so many ways, with poverty and raw need topping the list. To get back to this calm, orderly place was a reprieve and a pleasure, tinged with guilt at leaving all that suffering behind.

For anyone just tuning in now, I was at a week-long “dialogue” with the Dalai Lama on the theme of “Desire, craving, and addiction.” I was one of eight presenters, each of whom gave a talk to His Holiness (as he is called) and to the surrounding experts, monks, movie stars and what have you. All the talks are posted here. My talk is here. I want to tell you about two of the talks I found most fascinating and most relevant for people struggling with addiction.

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The Addicted Brain: Interview with Marc Lewis

4033340-4x3-340x255Here’s a fascinating interview with Marc Lewis as part of the ABC Radio Big Ideas series here in Australia. Well worth putting your feet up and listening – or have it running in the background.

‘Marc Lewis took every drug imaginable over a 15 year period. He knows drugs can make you feel good, and he experienced the desperate lows of addiction. He’s been drug free for 30 years and is now a neuroscientist.

So what do the drugs he took actually do to your brain?  Why do they make you feel the way they do? And – crucially – how is the brain responsible for addiction? He speaks to Paul Barclay.’

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Neuroscientist Marc Lewis On His Drug Addiction

Marc Lewis knows the power of addiction. His relationship with drugs took many forms over many years and accompanied him around the world. It was a story that seemed unlikely to have a happy ending.

It began in a New England boarding school where, bullied and homesick for Canada, he made brief escapes from reality by way of cough medicine and alcohol. Then a move to California in its hippie heyday brought him face to face with LSD, and finally heroin. In Asia, he joined American medics sniffing nitrous oxide in the Malay jungle and found a second home in the opium dens of Calcutta.

Back in Canada as a student, he resorted to stealing drugs from labs and medical centres. He then got clean for a while, but ended up working in a mental hospital, where he fled the madness around and within him through a desperate return to drugs.

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