Bill Nye Saves the World season 3 recap and review

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Photo Credit: Netflix

03.03 The Addiction Episode

Bill demonstrates increasing levels of various addiction, from coffee to prescription drugs to gambling to the internet. He claims that he’s not addicted and in total control.

This is how addiction works. Say you enjoy eating an orange. This enjoyment releases dopamine in the brain, which triggers the making of memories, traveling all the way up to the prefrontal cortex where you make decisions.

This is the reward pathway that helps us make decisions that are good for us. But drugs overwhelm and hijack the system until we can’t think of anything else. At the same time, the brain adapts to the drug and we need more of it to get the same reward. Nature and nurture both affect addiction.

Maria Bamford (Lady Dynamite) has had experience with depression and addiction. For eleven years she struggled with anorexia and bingeing. She emphasizes the importance of addiction is defined as a disease. Not only is it accurate as a condition that has a recognizable progression that could end its death, the idea of it as a disease lessens the stigma associated with addition.

Case Study: What is happening inside the brain of a gambling addict? Cara Santa Maria goes to St. Louis University to investigate behavioral addiction.

Dr. Alyssa Wilson, a behavioral analyst and Dr. Mark Dixon, behavioral psychologist work at the casino replica research lab. Test subjects sit down and play casino-style games in a realistic casino setting (no clocks, no windows, air conditioning) and undergo observation and testing.

They take MRI scans while showing subjects a number of different gambling outcomes. Pathological gamblers brains light up way more than non-addicted subjects. The theory is that behavioral therapy may be able to change the way the brain responds to the addictive stimuli.

Panel of Experts: Correspondent Cara Santa Maria, chair of psychology at Columbia University Dr. Carl Holt, Lieutenant with Lucas County Sheriff’s Office in Ohio, Bobby Chromik.

This panel was really something special. Often times these panels can be a little disjointed, but these people came together to make a really cohesive argument.

First of all, Bobby isn’t putting everyone in jail. Instead, he’s getting people treatment. Why waste tax dollars putting people in that revolving door of addiction? He has had 2400 clients with an 81% success rate. That’s huge.

Cara points out that while 12 step programs don’t have anywhere near that success rate, something to keep in mind is the individual. Treatment needs to be tailored to an individual’s needs, and 12 steps don’t work for everyone’s needs. Addiction is often linked to other factors, deep psychological or physical issues that need to be addressed in conjunction with the addition. It is most important for the individual to receive a comprehensive assessment to determine treatment.

Dr. Holt says the vast majority of people who use drugs do not become addicted, so you can’t blame the drug. Co-occurring illnesses can greatly exacerbate addiction, as well as environmental factors. Bobby agrees. The most important thing is a specialized treatment for the individual.

Dr. Holt says that people get so much wrong about addiction that there’s not enough time to talk about it. One of the main things is the moral frame in which we view addiction, the stigma that we place on it instead of getting people the help they really need.

Treatment programs take money of course and leaders need to invest in treatment and detox centers instead of incarcerating people. Bobby saved his county $500,000 last year in incarceration costs by having 460 low-level offenders put in treatment instead of spending 10 days in jail. Investing in social services is the best way to solve the problem and ultimately save money. Dr. Holt suggests that leaders can help by staying out of it and letting the experts do their jobs.

MAD SCIENTISTS! Albert Niemann (Michael Ian Black) isolated cocaine in hopes of using it for medical purposes. Of course, it is used for certain medical applications, but no one thinks about that when they think about cocaine. Not only does he go down in history as the inventor of cocaine, he also died at the age of 26 in the process of inventing mustard gas.

Nyegress: Bill demonstrates how the brain adapts to addictive substances by comparing drugs to music. He loves music but uses earplugs in order to protect his ears from the volume. In order to enjoy music through the earplugs, he has to turn it up louder, which forces him to use better ear protection. So on and so on, as the brain adapts to the effects of the drug, the user has to increase usage to continue receiving the effects.

Special Report with Julie Chang who has an exclusive interview with Addiction (Judah Friedlander). He’s super annoying and not your friend.

#billmeetsciencetwitter: Dr. Halley Froehlich from the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis is researching the future of seafood and marine conservation. Aquaculture is basically farming in the water. Fish are super efficient to farm, needing only one pound of feed per pound of fish.