The episode is called "The Fix" and it's about using drugs like baclofen and naltrexone to treat alcohol and drug addiction.
As I was listening, one person, when relating his story of getting started with alcohol, mentioned that he took a couple of shots of rum and it opened him up to be all outgoing and creative and stuff. Of course eventually it almost killed him as the amount of alcohol consumed grew. This is Exhibit 1.
It seems like the most successful entertainer types have drug or alcohol problems. This is Exhibit 2.
The super-successful Wall Street types, if one believes the basis of fiction on TV and Movies, take drugs. Exhibit 3.
I'm a social drinker. Or I might have a craft beer at home. I also intentionally drink coffee (I allowed myself to have a caffeine addiction). I've never smoked anything at all, and never injected anything or snorted anything. And I'm not planning to. I'm probably as addicted to sugar and salt as any US citizen. But when I drink alcohol or eat sweets or salty stuff, I never feel like it's opened up my creativity or somehow made me better (at something) or even really feel better. Sometimes I actually enjoy a buzz from alcohol, but not usually. Usually I feel like it's a loss of control. And I usually get sleepy from alcohol. My parents seem to be the same way about alcohol. A drink or two and they start to get sleepy. Not drunk, and not inspired or in any way better or worse. Exhibit 4. (note that Mom is entirely addicted to cigarettes. But, even though he smoked socially, and has lived with my mom for over 50 years, Dad has never gotten addicted to cigarettes.)
I never throw all of myself into anything. I consider myself a geocacher, but from what I can tell, I don't hunt them as often as most geocachers. I also hunt munzees, and I seek out historical markers and other things and waymark them. But I don't do ANY of that as much as most of the other people that do those same things. Other hobbies I've messed with have been the same way. I just dabble. All that is Exhibit 5.
So how connected is all this? The podcast mentioned that the drugs seemed to inhibit the rewards of alcohol or drugs. As if they interfere with the brain getting the stimulation. Someone else on the podcast said that drugs and alcohol will steal normal things from humans. A drug might give one the same feeling that being in love gives. Or alcohol might provide the same feeling of euphoria that a runner gets from a "runner's high". I've seen and read stuff talking about how, with certain addictions, lab animals will give up everthing else to feed the addiction. That's Exhibit 6.
What if some of us just don't have as many of those receptors? Or maybe we have them, but they're not as sensitive. Or our bodies already produce something that interferes with those receptors. And so we're less likely to get addicted. Less susceptible to drugs, alcohol, the high from exercise. What if that extends to being less susceptible to whatever reward one feels when one accomplishes something? Does that make us genetically predisposed to being mediocre? Because our brains never get the big reward and so we don't bother to try as hard?
Looking at all these Exhibits, I can't help but think this is so.