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I’ve been writing a lot about addiction lately because it’s a big deal, particularly in America, where the war in Afghanistan has come home to roost in the form of an unheralded opioid/heroin epidemic.

A recent post I made about the book by Johann Hari, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs discusses his radical departure from the mainstream clinical treatments that are based on individual recovery from addiction, with an eye instead on social recovery and remedying the unnatural way in which we live so that we may “rediscover each other.” As Hari says, “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.”

Hari points to how hospital patients treated with dimorphine (“deluxe heroin”) for several weeks don’t become addicted…in his home country of Germany. The classic history of the American injection drug user is one of addiction to street heroin following the legal prescription of painkillers. Is there something in our hyperconsumerist ethic that drives more Americans to “have it all” or are we more profoundly disconnected from one another than members of other groups?

The charismatic Gabor Maté, author of the bestselling book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts would probably agree with the latter. Dr. Maté believes that the source of addictions is not to be found in genes but in the early childhood environment. He thinks that all addictions originate in trauma and emotional loss. He points to studies that connect stress, abuse, lack of love and attachment to deficiencies in people’s ability to process endorphins and dopamine, the neurotransmitters that provide us with pleasure and pain relief.

Maté then claims that addiction results from a lack of neuroreceptors that cause people with addictions to self-medicate in order to supplement their faulty neurochemistry. In other words, they become addicted to drugs as replacements for the neurotransmitters their bodies fail to process.

While his compassionate approach is praised, his views have been called reductionist, inaccurate and dangerous by the orthodoxy. Still, like Johann Hari, Maté has obviously struck a nerve with his novel approach to an age old problem that seems more pressing than ever. Is the popularity of these new, holistic approaches a manifestation of denial and delusion?

You can decide for yourself in this very dynamic and compelling interview with Dr. Maté on London Real.

Alexandra Bruce

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Alexandra Bruce

Alexandra Bruce

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13 comments

  • The inner emptiness is a void.
    It is possible to avoid this void and voiding this void.
    It is possible to avoid the inner soul and voiding the inner soul.

    I seems to me that avoiding the inner soul allows all the traumas of the world iniside.
    By education the avoiding of the soul happens by the avoiding soul parents.
    When this will go on, there will never be peace and love on earth.

    Voiding is attracting the soul inside.
    Loving one self………..

  • There is an inner emptiness, where the human soul should be at home.
    Inside this emptiness is active a strong attraction force, causing loning , jealousy and the belonging addiction, when the soul is not present.
    By being selfish, the search for the soul self is in focus, now it is needed to start the journey to the inside.

  • The trauma and addiction link is well known, so nothing particularly new here, even if M.D.s are trauma-phobic–very sad the direction medicine has taken. However, Dr. Mate’s manner of addressing addictions, delivering keen info and redirecting the concept was pinpoint. He noted: It’s not a war on drugs but a war on humanity; absolutely. You can’t cure anyone but you can guide them; absolutely. These truths bear repeating, especially in the addiction riddled West–and I don’t mean simply drug addiction. Excellent interview and very worth watching.

    • Elle,

      as long people fight against these traumas, they will never disappear.
      There is a possibility to use the energy of these traumas and transform it inot love energy and health.
      Breathing is needed.
      Practise ever since 1981.

        • Hi Susan,

          in alternative circles it is known, that when cancer cells get enough oxygen, they heal themselves. This is one indication how breathing can help to cure illnesses.
          Of course, there is much more explanation needed.
          Maybe Alexandra could provide me your email address, where it becomes possible to inform you more detailed?

          Aham

  • I agree with his ideas. He has done a lot of soul searching and love his logic
    Suggest the next step could be to increase the desire in addicts to want to be helped. A person will only go through treatment if their desire to be free of addiction is greater than their desire to escape from the pain. Eventually it has to come from the heart of the addict but first we have to plant the idea in their head and then increase the desire to become a burning passion from the heart.
    Unfortunately politicians want a quick fix and this doesn’t do that – John

    • John,

      yes…….
      It indeed concerns the soul, where I am aware of the soul of light and of the soul of graveness. The souls of light are still bipolar, where the soul of graveness is singular (0neness).

      Aham

  • So many thoughts ideas feelings dancing around my body mind and soul that I am having a hard time putting them into words.
    We do seem to have a sliding scale on acceptance of addictions some considered acceptable even commendable while others are condemned though they all stem from the same sources. I hear and I agree with Dr. Mate that people are trying to self medicate to fill the vast void deep within their being.
    One difficulty in dealing with those who are addicted may be their self servicing manipulation at any cost to obtain their “fix”.
    And then there is the danger involved in obtaining illicit substances and being involved in that process.
    Those involved in obsessive shopping eating
    work… may appear to be in involved in less harmful behaviors though they too are attempting to fill the void.
    Maybe the idea of doing onto othes as we would want them to do onto us comes into play.

    • Karen,

      the identification with the outer world causes these addictions.
      The identification with the inner void frees from these addictions.

      Aham

      • Thank You aham for your insight. Sorry for the delay in response. I forget to check for feedback.
        I am working on developing that inner peace and quiet. Karen

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