Trainspotting: a window into addiction and recovery

April 24, 2012

Along with my colleague, epigeneticist Rob Martienssen, I spoke about mechanisms of addiction in the context of the movie, “Trainspotting” last week at the Cinema Arts Center in Huntington. A link about our event explains more about the “Science on screen” series that the cinema is hosting. 

Among the audience participants were people who were recovering addicts themselves, or family members of people whose lives are colored by addiction. We talked about the changes in the brain that take place during drug use and addiction, and also about variability in the degree to which people are susceptible to addiction. Many of these topics dovetailed with scenes in the movie. For example, when Renton, the protagonist in “Trainspotting”, tries to quit using heroine, the withdrawal symptoms are much more severe for him compared to his friend, Simon. Rob speculated about whether epigenetic changes might explain why recovery from addiction is so challenging.  

One Response to “Trainspotting: a window into addiction and recovery”

  1. […] Most drugs, including heroin—the villain in “Trainspotting”—overstimulate the brain’s reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine, a chemical neurotransmitter that facilitates communication between neurons. Churchland drew on the movie’s plot to highlight various aspects of drug addiction, such as the mechanistic basis of relapse and the tendency to co-abuse another stimulant, such as alcohol. Read Churchland’s take on the science of Trainspotting here.  […]

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Fairhall lab

Computational neuroscience at the University of Washington

Pillow Lab Blog

Neural Coding and Computation Lab @ Princeton University

Churchland lab

Perceptual decision-making at Cold Spring Harbor

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