21. Addiction – We’ve Got A Winner


For many around the world, Christmas is a time for relaxing, spending time with friends and family, and having some well deserved time off from work. Coupled with celebrating the upcoming New Year just one week later, these joyous times are often celebrated with overindulgent behaviour, with food often being the central point of any celebration, from sitting down for Christmas dinner to eating boxes of chocolates whilst watching Christmas specials on TV, putting on an extra 2kg of weight per person¹. But food is not alone, over the month of December; over half of Britons drink alcohol even when they don’t necessarily want too², equating to about 600 million units of alcohol through December³.


Whilst for some this over indulgence is viewed as an escape from normality, a time of year to ‘let go’ and unwind, this is not the case for everyone. During 2015-16 in the UK 288,843 adults were in contact with drug and alcohol services, of which 138,081 started treatment⁴. The largest culprit (149,807 people) were opiates (a group of drugs including heroin, methadone and buprenorphine) followed closely by alcohol (144,908 people).

In this episode of the Neutrinos are Mutating we are discussing Requiem for a Dream, the 2000 American psychological drama film directed by Darren Aronofsky starring Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto and Jennifer Connolly among many others. The movie portrays four different forms of drug addition and exploring the impact of addiction on personal relationships (work, sexual and family) as well as impact on the wider community including interaction with medical professionals and what would now be considered uncommon/unhelpful/unethical (but non-the-less used in the not so distant past) treatment options.


To help us understand the reality of addiction and explore it’s biological impact we talk to Dr Niki Ray, a biological psychologist from Manchester Metropolitan University who discusses her research into the neurological impact of medications and provides an up-to-date look at the field of addiction, providing a fascinating insight into a very real and significant problem.

1 http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/healthychristmas/pages/christmasinjuries.aspx
2 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/alcohol-weary-brits-admit-they-need-a-break
3 http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/british-drinkers-get-chance-to-check-xmas-intake-5512114.html
4 http://www.nta.nhs.uk/uploads/adult-statistics-from-the-national-drug-treatment-monitoring-system-2015-2016%5B0%5D.pdf



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