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Addicted to dopamine

15 August 2022
6.30pm – 7.30pm AEST
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Anna Lembke

Anna Lembke | Sana Qadar

Everywhere you look people are overindulging, but that’s not to say it’s their fault. We have unprecedented 24/7 access to deliberately addictive, high-dopamine stimuli – drugs, food, news, gambling, shopping, gaming, sexting, Facebooking, YouTubing and tweeting. Our lives are saturated by our own dopamine and our culture encourages us to pursue it.  

Speaking on her new book, Dopamine Nation, psychiatrist Dr Anna Lembke in conversation with the ABC’s Sana Qadar discusses the neuroscience of addiction and how we can find balance in a world flooded with these potent time-sapping (and often despair-inducing) lures.  

While dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is vital for health and happiness, too much dopamine too often tips the balance towards misery. Lembke will explain what new scientific discoveries can teach us about this relentless pursuit of pleasure, its relationship to pain and how this knowledge can inform our choices to make for more flourishing lives. She will share insights from her clients and their struggles to overcome these problems.  

At a time when we are all vulnerable to compulsive overconsumption, both understanding the science and learning from the experiences of others can help us break our own dopamine addiction. It’s high time to pursue healthier pleasures: genuine contentment with self and connectedness to others. 

This event is presented by the UNSW Centre for Ideas and UNSW Medicine & Health as a part of National Science Week and Sydney Science Festival. Head here to see full program.


We're giving away 100 copies of Anna Lembke's New York Times bestseller, Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence.

Register for this event to be placed in the draw to win a copy!

Competition closes on Monday, 15 August |


This event will be available on the UNSW Centre for Ideas website and UNSW YouTube channel. Closed captions will be available on each platform.

A link to watch the event will be sent just before the event to registered attendees.







For event enquiries or to discuss your access requirements, please call the Centre for Ideas on 02 9065 0485 or email

The Centre for Ideas is happy to receive phone calls via the National Relay Service. TTY users, phone 133 677, then ask for 02 9065 0485. Speak and Listen users, phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 02 9065 0485. Internet relay users, visit, then ask for 02 9065 0485. 

Anna Lembke

Anna Lembke

Anna Lembke is the medical director of Stanford Addiction Medicine, program director for the Stanford Addiction Medicine Fellowship, and chief of the Stanford Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic. She is the recipient of numerous awards for outstanding research in mental illness, for excellence in teaching, and for clinical innovation in treatment. A clinician scholar, she has published more than a hundred peer reviewed papers, book chapters, and commentaries in prestigious outlets such as The New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA. She sits on the board of several American state and national addiction focused organisations and has testified before various committees in the United States House of Representatives and Senate.  

Lembke also keeps an active speaking calendar and maintains a thriving clinical practice. Lembke recently appeared on the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma, an unvarnished look at the impact of social media on our lives. Her newest book, Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence, an instant New York Times Bestseller, explores how to moderate compulsive overconsumption in a dopamine-overloaded world.

Sana Qadar

Sana Qadar

Sana Qadar is an award-winning podcaster and journalist whose work has featured on the ABC, BBC, SBS, Al Jazeera, and NPR to name a few. Sana hosts All in the Mind on ABC Radio National, and co-hosts the SBS podcast Eyes on Gilead, which won a 2019 Australian Podcast Award for Best Fancast.