Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice | Election 2020

What Happens To The Brain When It Becomes Addicted

Brain Scan - CAT Scan and MRI scan in color.

Credit: Courtesy of WGBH

Above: Brain Scan - CAT Scan and MRI scan in color.

Scripps Neuroscientist To Discuss What Happens To Brain When It Becomes Addicted


Dr. Olivier George, associate professor in the department of neuroscience, Scripps Research Institute


Scripps Research Institute professor Dr. Olivier George estimates that nearly 800,000 San Diego County residents have a substance-use disorder.

And, he said, many don't realize it.

Estimated Prevalence Of Substance Use Disorder In San Diego County

Tobacco: 525,000 (21 percent of adult population)

Alcohol: 175,000 (7 percent of adult population)

Marijuana: 50,000 (2 percent of adult population)

Prescription: 25,000 (1 percent of adult population)

Stimulant: 15,000 (.6 percent of adult population)

Heroin: 6,250 (.3 percent of adult population)

Hallucinogens: 2,500 (.1 percent of adult population)

Source: SAMHSA

George said that a sign that you are on your way to becoming addicted to a substance is exhibiting risky behavior.

"When you start bingeing on alcohol, bingeing on drugs to the point where you will pass out maybe, where you might have an accident, where you might get into an argument with your partner," George said. "So your behavior is the best sign, we don't have any good biomarker to tell you if you're on the way to addiction or not."

George studies what actually happens when the brain becomes addicted and how to develop therapies to interrupt that path.

George joins Midday Edition on Monday to discuss his research.

George will be speaking 6:30 p.m. Monday at a Fleet Science Center Suds and Science event at Wavelength Brewing in Vista.


San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Midday Edition banner

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.