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'Tremendous misunderstanding' about addictions

By Guttz, Nov 20, 2012 | | |
  1. Guttz
    A leading expert on addictions says there still remains a "tremendous misunderstanding" about the problem in our society.

    "People see addictions as some lifestyle choice that somebody makes," said Dr. Gabor Mate, a physician, public speaker and best-selling author.

    "Nobody wakes up and says, 'My ambition is to become an addict,'" he added.

    Mate was a keynote speaker at the Chatham-Kent Addictions Awareness Conference in Chatham on Tuesday, which a collaborative effort between the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Mental Health & Addictions Program and the Chatham-Kent Community Health Centres.

    Mate said addiction is a response to suffering and most people who are severely addicted were traumatized as children. As a result, he said, people in this situation have pain they try to soothe with drugs.

    "People who are sufferers of early adversity tend to have brains that are more prone to be attuned to the addictive substance," he added.

    He said many people don't understand addiction and are frightened of it.

    Addictions are rife in society, because a lot of people are using food, gambling, Internet, work, shopping or sex, to soothe their pain and distress, he added.

    "We just don't like to recognize how common this problem is, so we single out the drug addict as being somehow different than the rest of us."

    Looking at addiction as a disease is valid, Mate said, but noted, "at the same time, it has to be seen as more than a disease, it has to be seen as a social, economic and childhood developmental problem.

    "We have to look at it in all its different dimensions. It's not any one pain."

    Mate, who is author of the award-winning book 'In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction,' said treatment for addiction is a long process that requires support, compassion, understanding and patience to deal with addicts.

    "Unfortunately, as a society we're spending the money on building jails instead of providing treatment."

    He said if you take a young person who is committing petty crimes to feed a drug habit and stick them in jail, all that is going to happen is they will be more entrenched in their drug use when they come out.

    Mate said what's lacking in their lives is nurturing relationships with adults, and proper support.

    While public understanding may be lacking, Paula Reaume-Zimmer, Chatham-Kent Health Alliance mental health and addictions program and emergency services program director, said mental health and addictions has moved to the top of the agenda of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

    "I think people are finally getting the message about the importance of mental health and addictions, and the implications on health care services and general welfare of a community if those two elements aren't addressed," she said.

    Locally, Reaume-Zimmer said there has been a shift from just having the CKHA mental health and addictions program in the community to offer assessment and referral to moving it to the primary care sector.

    She said there are primary health teams, locally, with social workers and therapists "who can start delivering addiction services sooner than later."

    By Ellwood Shreve, QMI Agency
    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 6:24:13 EST PM



  1. Guttz
    I have uploaded to the video archive a lecture with Gabor Maté which I find extremely interesting. In my opinion he has the broadest understanding of addiction of all these specialists that I have seen or read something from.

    You could also check out what he has to say in the last zeitgeist movie where he goes a bit into these issues as well.

    The lecture can be found here: http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/local_links.php?catid=164&linkid=12173
  2. source
    Never a truer word said. Everyone to a certain extent experiences addiction at some point in their lives, and some are addicts from an early age right throughout their lives. Taking an addiction to the internet as a example: there are definite reasons there - be it loneliness or the inability to interact with other people socially, trauma in childhood causing a certain detachment to society.... thinking about it there are countless people that spend all day/night on the internet and don't go out. Are they treated the same as someone who uses drugs to ease their pain? No. But they are both addictions, and they are both addictions with possibly the same sort of root cause.

    I have never seen addiction as a 'disease' though, and I hate drug addiction being categorized as so.
    A disease is something people can 'catch' or a disease is something people are unfortunately born with. A disease is something that can be seen in the body and diagnosed. Addiction is not visable, addiction cannot be 'caught' or 'cured' with a course of pills or a minor operation. People who suffer from 'addiction' have certain root causes behind it. There are reasons why people are addicted to drugs just the same as people who eat too much for comfort or spend all day/night indoors on the internet.
    Addiction is a mental illness or rather the result of a mental illness; as people develop an addiction (or an addictive nature) after some sort of mental trauma.

    So yes, addiction being a disease in my eyes is a definite no no lol.

    Excellent post though, I agree with Dr. Gabor Mate and the way he explains his opinion is in a way most people can understand and make sense of for once.
    Thanks for the link to the lecture, I will have a look at that when I have more time, if the article is anything to go by then the lecture is definitely going to be an interesting and truthful one!!
  3. Jack Charles
    Lol this is stupid because addiction is not a disease and that pisses my friend off more than anything when people say it is. It is just weakness, and people who say otherwise are either just swallowing whole what their told in aa and na meeting or in college if they are going to be a psychologist or something or they are just weak and looking for an excuse to justify their use or inability to take a stand against it. Don't say my friend doesn't understand either. Hes smoked meth and shot stupid shit into his veins a couple times and been to prison and almost died and all that, and have went through periods where Hes used bad drugs and what not more than He should have, way more. But He stopped, because He realized He was NOT powerless and He could do it on his own, with no help from gods bitch ass.
  4. source
    I agree with you when you say that addiction is not a disease and you're also right when you mention NA meetings etc because a lot of what they preach is ridiculous.
    I also agree with you when you say that having an addiction is a weakness.
    However, it's weakness in the fact that addicts are unable to deal with trauma or certain bad experiences or circumstances without turning to drugs. Just like those who comfort eat or stay indoors on the net etc.

    That is a very narrowminded view indeed, not only that it falsely places all types of drug addiction in the same basket.
    It's not weakness in the fact that we need an excuse to take drugs - far from it. Addictions and addictive natures develop in people who have been through bad and traumatic situations. It is certainly not just a justification to use drugs and 'get high'.
    Plus - take someone who was badly injured in an accident who now has a problem with an addiction to painkillers.... is he/she weak and just looking for an excuse to take drugs?
  5. Jack Charles
    I could have been more constructive with my comment source, thank you for saying what you said. I feel you on the pain killers too, My friend was recently in an accident and had a real bad busted up body, a bunch of broken ribs, twisted sternum, etc. he was in the hospital for 5 days and was in bed and barley could even get up or sit down for months, He now has 2 titanium bars in my rib cage, and am finally off the pain killers, He was doing like 80 mg of oxy a day for months there and that was a rough habit to kick. He knows people deal with worse but He does understand that one, it is a bitch. He threw away the pain killers He had left after a while because He said fuck that He would rather be in constant pain and stand strong with his mind on the level, instead of being a slave to the pain AND the drugs.
  6. Jack Charles
    They fucked up the surgery of putting the bars in too and one of his ribs healed in the wrong spot, so now He has to go back into surgery in a month and they have to chop out some cartilage and reposition a couple ribs and wire them back together, He will be back on the heaviest duty painkillers known to man and once again will have to deal with that shit, and will have to stay strong as to not get addicted. But He does know bro don't ever say He doesant understand..
  7. derpahderp
    Im posting this and know it could easily be invalid due to my copy/paste aka lazy thinking.

    Taken from comments of Q&A from- why addiction is not a brain disease? blog/article

    His answer:

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