Radical Honesty: How Telling the Truth Changes our Brains and Promotes Recovery

Room – Main Ballroom 4:00 pm February 22nd, 2023, Hyatt Regency Centre, Calgary Alberta

Speaker Dr Anna Lembke

Anna Lembke  Dopamine Nation
Recovery Capital Conference

Session Description

Stanford psychiatry professor Anna Lembke—New York Times bestselling author of Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence—decodes complex neuroscience into applicable strategies that explain and promote recovery. An expert in treating addictions of all kinds, in this talk Lembke discusses the biology and psychology of radical honesty: Telling the truth in all things large and small. She illuminates how radical honesty strengthens the prefrontal cortex, engenders a plenty-mindset, and ends the cycle of destructive shame that perpetuates addiction. Drawing on lessons from scientific research as well as the lived experience of people in recovery, students will learn how honesty as a daily commitment can help curb desire and encourage contentment and connectedness.

Learning Objectives

  • Explain the discipline of radical honesty (telling the truth in all things) and its relationship to the prefrontal cortex
  • Identify the role of radical honesty in promoting a plenty mindset as opposed to a scarcity mindset.
  • Review how radical honesty with the intention of making amends promotes intimacy and ends the cycle of destructive shame that perpetuates addiction.


  • Ahmed, S. H., and G. F. Koob. “Transition from Moderate to Excessive Drug Intake: Change in Hedonic Set Point.” Science 282, no. 5387 (1998): 298–300. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.282.5387.298.
  • Michel André Maréchal, Alain Cohn, Giuseppe Ugazio, and Christian C. Ruff, “Increasing Honesty in Humans with Noninvasive Brain Stimulation,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 114, no. 17 (2017): 4360–64, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1614912114.
  • Volkow, N. D., J. S. Fowler, G-J. Wang, and J. M. Swanson. “Dopamine in Drug Abuse and Addiction: Results from Imaging Studies and Treatment Implications.” Molecular Psychiatry 9, no. 6 (June 2004): 557–69. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.mp.4001507.


Anna Lembke, MD is a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine and chief of the Stanford Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic. A clinician scholar, she is the author of more than a hundred peer-reviewed publications, has testified before the United States House of Representatives and Senate, has served as an expert witness in federal and state opioid litigation, and is an internationally recognized leader in addiction medicine treatment and education.

In 2016, she published Drug Dealer, MD – How Doctors Were Duped, Patients Got Hooked, and Why It’s So Hard to Stop (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016), highlighted in the New York Times as one of the top five books to read to understand the opioid epidemic (Zuger, 2018).

Dr. Lembke appeared in the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma, an unvarnished look at the impact of social media on our lives. Her latest book, Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence (Dutton/Penguin Random House, August 2021) was an instant New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller and has been translated into 25 languages. It combines the neuroscience of addiction with the wisdom of recovery to explore the problem of compulsive overconsumption in a dopamine-overloaded world.

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Alberta model


a $600 CACCF Value