According to Dr. Gabor Maté, addiction, or the capacity to become addicted, is very close to the core of the human experience. That is why almost anything can become addictive, from seemingly healthy activities such as eating or exercising to abusing drugs intended for healing. Addictions, for the most part, develop in a compulsive attempt to ease one’s pain or distress in the world. Given the amount of pain and dissatisfaction that human life engenders, many of us are driven to find solace in external things. The more we suffer, and the earlier in life we suffer, the more we are prone to become addicted.
The inner city drug addicts Dr. Maté works with are amongst the most abused and rejected people amongst us, but as he notes, instead of compassion our society treats them with contempt. Instead of understanding and acceptance, we give them punishment and moral disapproval. In doing so, we fail to recognize our own deeply rooted problems and thereby forego an opportunity for healing not only for them, the extreme addicts, but also for ourselves as individuals and as a culture.
Gabor Maté M.D. is a Canadian physician, public speaker and the bestselling author of four books, published internationally in twenty languages. His most recent book is the award-winning bestseller, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. Dr. Maté has worked in family practice and palliative care and, for twelve years, in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside with patients challenged by hard-core drug addiction, mental illness and HIV, including at Vancouver Supervised Injection Site. His other interests encompass childhood developmental issues, mind/body health, and parenting.