Dr Karen Ersche, Cambridge University
Kicking off the programme, we’ve all seen headlines about addiction, whether it be to the internet, food, or drugs of abuse. There's a lot of research going on in this area and I visited Dr. Karen Ersche from the Department of Psychiatry, Cambridge University to find out why she studies addiction and how she thinks science can help destigmatise the issues.
Karen - I work in the field of drug addiction. I like to find out how drugs of abuse turn people’s lives upside down. People take cocaine, develop dependence and behave in a way that they lose their jobs, they make debts, they lose their relationships, families break up because of the drug, and it seems difficult to understand why are they still taking the drugs if the whole world around them falls apart. For many people and society, they think that these are just bad people or these are weak people because they just don’t manage to get off the drug. As a scientist, to have an understanding of how the drugs work and how they change the brain in the longer term, and that is very helpful to improve treatment for people who have become addicted to drugs or how to prevent addiction in people who are at risk.
Hannah - And we’ll be returning to Karen later in the show to find out about some of her research in the area.