Nora Volkow on Fresh Air

Nora Volkow was on NPR’s Fresh Air today. I was in and out of the car and only heard about 1/3 of it. I’ll listen to the podcast after they post it. I have a couple of reactions to what I did hear.

She’s gotten better and better at explaining complex neurobiology and it was good to hear her in an unscientific forum.

She addressed the relative dopamine impact of various drugs with alcohol and tobacco being at or near the bottom. This is striking because she really emphasizes increased dopamine activity as a critical factor in addiction and tobacco has the highest capture rate of all drugs. (There was a new article this week highlighting this.) I would have loved to hear more discussion of this. Clearly, there’s more to the story than dopamine. (I doubt she’s argue with that point.)

She did go on to discuss that tobacco is about the only addictive drug that can be freely woven into all areas of person’s life. She made the case that this is an important factor in the difficulty most smokers have when trying to quit.