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  • Dopamine Nation

  • Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence
  • Written by: Dr. Anna Lembke
  • Narrated by: Dr. Anna Lembke
  • Length: 6 hrs and 11 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (545 ratings)

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Dopamine Nation

Written by: Dr. Anna Lembke
Narrated by: Dr. Anna Lembke
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Publisher's Summary

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES and LOS ANGELES TIMES BESTSELLER

“Brilliant . . . riveting, scary, cogent, and cleverly argued.”—Beth Macy, author of Dopesick, as heard on Fresh Air

This book is about pleasure. It’s also about pain. Most important, it’s about how to find the delicate balance between the two, and why now more than ever finding balance is essential. We’re living in a time of unprecedented access to high-reward, high-dopamine stimuli: drugs, food, news, gambling, shopping, gaming, texting, sexting, Facebooking, Instagramming, YouTubing, tweeting . . . The increased numbers, variety, and potency is staggering. The smartphone is the modern-day hypodermic needle, delivering digital dopamine 24/7 for a wired generation. As such we’ve all become vulnerable to compulsive overconsumption.

In Dopamine Nation, Dr. Anna Lembke, psychiatrist and author, explores the exciting new scientific discoveries that explain why the relentless pursuit of pleasure leads to pain . . . and what to do about it. Condensing complex neuroscience into easy-to-understand metaphors, Lembke illustrates how finding contentment and connectedness means keeping dopamine in check. The lived experiences of her patients are the gripping fabric of her narrative. Their riveting stories of suffering and redemption give us all hope for managing our consumption and transforming our lives. In essence, Dopamine Nation shows that the secret to finding balance is combining the science of desire with the wisdom of recovery.

©2021 Dr. Anna Lembke (P)2021 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

"Anna Lembke deeply understands an experience I hear about often in the therapy room at the nexus between our modern addictions and our primal brains. Her stories of guiding people to find a healthy balance between pleasure and pain have the power to transform your life.” (Lori Gottlieb, “Dear Therapist” columnist at The Atlantic, New York Times best-selling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone)

“Just when you thought you knew all you needed to know about the addiction crisis, along comes Dr. Anna Lembke with her second brilliant book on the topic—this one not about a drug but about the most powerful chemical of all: the dopamine that rules the pain and pleasure centers of our minds. In an era of overconsumption and instant gratification, Dopamine Nation explains the personal and societal price of being ruled by the next fix—and how to manage it. No matter what you might find yourself over-indulging in—from the internet to food to work to sex—you’ll find this book riveting, scary, cogent, and cleverly argued. Lembke weaves patient stories with research, in a voice that’s as empathetic as it is clear-eyed.” (Beth Macy, author of Washington Post Best Book of the Year, New York Times Notable Book of 2018, and best seller Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America)

“We all desire a break from our routines and those parts of life that upset us. What if, instead of trying to escape these things, we learn to turn toward them, to reach a peaceful harmony with our selves and the people we share our lives with? Lembke has written a book that radically changes the way we think about mental illness, pleasure, pain, reward, and stress. Turn toward it. You’ll be happy you did.” (Daniel Levitin, New York Times best-selling author of The Organized Mind and Successful Aging)

"Explore[s] the dichotomy between seeking a readily accessible hit of dopamine—from our phones, gambling, or a bag of Fritos—and maintaining healthy, productive, stable lives.” (The New York Times, Inside the Best-Seller List)

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What listeners say about Dopamine Nation

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everyone should read this

I've learned so much! I didn't know so many things qualify as addiction, I'm going to change some things in my life for sure!

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Wonderful

Dr. Lembke has put together an amazing book! Incredibly engaging throughout and I’m glad she voices the book.

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this really got the message through to me

listened to a podcast with the author and immediately purchased the audiobook. loved the content, very useful. my only criticism is starting with the sex addict and narrating in a (Chinese?!) accent that was completely unnecessary. it almost turned me off but I kept listening and im glad to have finished the book. I'm about to do my first cold plunge, 2nd day of abstinence (after nearly 20 years of daily use) woohoo! this book motivates, empowers and it may have just changed the course of my life. so thank you!

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Clarity starts with abstinence

Great listen. Recommend to anymore yo-yoing through life from one drug of choice to the next. Enjoyed the narration.

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good read

found her on the Andrew Huberman podcast. I'm not well spoken myself but it seems she includes some ideas from her experience as a therapist that is outside of just pure evidence based medicine. but I like it. I enjoy her theories with some decent arguments to back it up. would love to hear more

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So good!

Such an important and accessible take on our culture of hedonism. I live this book and am so thankful.

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    5 out of 5 stars

a must read

I listened to this on repeat. It's an information packed gold mine. Highly recommend!!! A must have for any library

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Not what I was expecting.

I didn’t read the description before picking up this book… It should be called addiction nation.

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  • JMS
  • 2021-09-09

I listened to this audiobook on 1.4 X speed

*Note: complete review available on the Audiobook Reviews in Five Minutes Podcast*

What really sets apart Lembke’s ideas around addiction is her departure from the idea that addiction is always rooted in trauma or genetics. Addiction doesn’t always have a deep cause or origin story. Addiction is its own thing. We’re all vulnerable to some form of addictive behaviour at some point in our lives simply because we share the same dopamine-driven neural pathways.

Lembke has a pleasant, calming voice, but her narration is slow enough to put me in a napping mood, so I listened to this audiobook on 1.4 X the normal speed. Maybe admitting this reflects my own dopamine-seeking behaviour – to speed through content, but it’s hard to imagine anyone listening to this audiobook and not becoming more self-conscious about their tendencies toward endless phone scrolling, mindless snacking, or whatever it is you do to avoid boredom or seek out pleasure.

As a practicing therapist, Lembke includes patient anecdotes throughout her book, beginning with a heartbreakingly vivid example of a patient struggling with sex addiction. And Lembke admits to a period in her life where she became consumed by the urge to read romance novels and erotica to the point where she felt she had to give up her Kindle device, which seems both quaint and relatable in the grand scheme of addictions.

My criticism of this book is that Lembke doesn’t specify in detail what constitutes reasonable use for our addictive behaviours, which would have been interesting, and certainly helpful. Instead, she highlights well-worn advice for how to limit our use of problematic behaviours, like locking our phones away or restricting our access to social media. I wonder what she’d think of temptation bundling, the term coined by behavioral economist Katherine Milkman, which refers to pairing certain dopamine-chasing behaviours, such as scrolling on social media or watching Netflix, with habits we’re less excited about, like exercising on a stationary bike. I do this a few days a week, and it seems harmless enough.

Also, Lembke strongly advocates for periods of abstinence and even pursuing painful activities that have the potential to deliver dopamine after we do them, like going for a run, having an ice bath, talking to a stranger, or reading a book on philosophy. This prompts me to ask, what if you already feel intrinsically motivated to do some of these things? How do you know which painful activities to pursue, differentiating which ones are more likely to deliver meaningful experiences, let alone hits of dopamine afterward? Lembke doesn’t go into detail about this, which is unfortunate, because she DOES allude to self-harming activities and overexercise becoming a problem in and of themselves.

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7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

eye opening

loved it. had so mang aha moments that were applicable to my daly life. so many powerful tools that anyone can use to enhance their life

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