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The word “addict” usually conjures up images of people who are hooked on alcohol, street drugs or even prescription medication. But the fact is, there’s an almost endless list of substances and behaviors that can lead to addiction—from potato chips to social media—and everyone is vulnerable, even more so during the pandemic and lockdowns. If you fear that one of your loved ones is trapped in this downward spiral, it’s crucial to recognize the red flags.

In this edition of the Bottom Line Advocator Podcast, Anna Lembke, MD, psychiatrist and medical director of Addiction Medicine at Stanford University, joins Bottom Line President Sarah Hiner to talk about the surprising ways that people of all ages and backgrounds can become addicted and the most effective methods for them to start reclaiming their lives. Dr. Lembke is author of Drug Dealer, MD: How Doctors Were Duped, Patients Got Hooked, and Why It’s So Hard to Stop. Her forthcoming book is Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence.

Topics covered include…

  • COVID-19’s surprising effects on people with addiction or at risk (6:02 – 9:40)
  • The reasons why alcohol use is on the rise (9:40 – 12:16)
  • How lack of structure has put more people at risk for addiction (12:16 – 14:03)
  • Why stress can help some people with addiction (14:03 – 16:38)
  • The lifetime prevalence of substance use disorders (16:38 – 17:47)
  • What exactly is “addiction”? (17:47 – 18:58)
  • How addiction begins and progresses (18:58 – 21:02)
  • The powerful ways that dopamine reinforces addictions (21:02 – 22:28)
  • Why potato chips are potent “drugs” (22:28 – 23:01) 
  • How the dopamine deficit drives cravings and addiction (23:01 – 25:31)
  • What evolution has to do with our brain’s addictive tendencies (25:31 – 28:23)
  • Why some people can’t stop using their drug of choice (28:23 – 30:41)
  • Addiction’s link to nature, nurture and neighborhood (30:41 – 35:14)
  • The normalization of drug use, including cannabis (35:14 – 36:58)
  • How to tell if a carb lover is really addicted (36:58 – 38:25)
  • Everyone is vulnerable to compulsive overconsumption (38:25 – 39:52)
  • New trend: More older adults are now becoming addicted (39:52 – 41:53)
  • Millennial women are catching up to men in rates of addiction (41:53 – 42:27)
  • “Drugs” of choice in women versus men (42:27 – 43:26)
  • How to help a loved one who may have an addiction problem (43:26 – 44:56)
  • Why denial is such a powerful force (44:56 – 45:40)                   
  • What works better than self-tests for spotting addiction (45:40 – 48:00)
  • The words to use when talking to a loved one who may be addicted (48:00 – 51:17)
  • Al-Anon and other organizations that can help (51:17 – 52:13)
  • Why people who wonder if they are addicted should reach out (52:13 – 53:46)
  • New apps to help people with potential addiction problems (53:46 – 55:25)

Learn more about Dr. Anna Lembke and her work at https://stanfordhealthcare.org/doctors/l/anna-lembke.html.

You can connect with and stay in touch with Sarah at her website www.bottomlineinc.com! Find Bottom Line on Facebook @WeAreBottomLine and at Bottom Line Inc. on  www.linkedin.com.

And if you enjoyed this podcast, please share a review so that more people can benefit from Be sure to subscribe to the Bottom Line Advocator Podcast with Sarah Hiner on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher.