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Finding Balance In A Dopamine Overloaded World with Dr Anna Lembke

by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee   /  December 1, 2021

CAUTION: Includes themes of an adult nature.

Do you think you have an addiction, or perhaps an unhealthy relationship with a certain behaviour? It may be a behaviour that you have tried to stop in the past that you keep returning back to despite your best intentions. Well, if you do (and I cannot imagine there are many people out there who don’t), I think you will find today’s conversation eye-opening. My guest is Dr. Anna Lembke, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine, and author of the brilliant new book, Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance In the Age Of Indulgence, in which she explores the exciting new scientific discoveries that explain why our relentless pursuit of pleasure leads to pain.

In today’s conversation, we explore the fact that we are living in a dopamine overloaded world where everything has been made more accessible, more abundant, and more potent. 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 list is endless. And the effect is that we are now living in a world that has turned many of us into addicts.

We delve into what exactly dopamine is, why we all need it, and how getting too much of it can actually lead to pain. Anna explains that pleasure and pain work like a balance in the brain. In fact, the same parts of the brain that process pleasure, also process pain. If we tip that balance too far in the pursuit of pleasure, the brain responds by overcompensating and pushing us in the direction of pain.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, there is plenty that we can do to find the right balance and in our conversation, Anna shares some of her best practical advice that has been honed over years and years of treating patients.

We cover a wide range of topics, including why radical honesty is important for all of us, the lessons that we can learn from people who have been through recovery and the effect that isolation has on addiction. We also discuss how this problem of overconsumption can affect our kids at crucial stages in their development, and what we can do to protect them.

Anna is a world-leading expert in her field but what I love the most about her is her authenticity, compassionate manner and her passion to help as many people as she can. This was a really powerful conversation. I hope you enjoy listening.

Disclaimer: The content in the podcast and on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.*

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Watch the video version of this interview – click below.

'We're really living in a world that has turned us all into addicts.' Share on X

Find out about Anna:


Anna’s book:

Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance In the Age Of Indulgence

Interesting Articles:

The Guardian Constant craving: how digital media turned us all into dopamine addicts

Irish Examiner Screen addicts: How smartphones have made us more dependant on dopamine

Related Feel Better Live More podcast episodes:

#193 How Admitting Powerlessness Can Change Your Life with Benjamin Francis Leftwich

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Dr Chatterjee’s books and resources:


*DISCLAIMER: Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have heard on the podcast or on my website.

†Disclosure: All books marked with a † are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We take part in Amazon’s affiliate advertising program designed to provide a way for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon’s website. You are not charged any extra by using these links to purchase books.

Dr. Rangan Chatterjee MbChB, BSc (Hons), MRCP, MRCGP