Profoundly original, best-selling writer and physician Gabor Maté looks at the epidemic of addictions in our society, tells us why we are so prone to them, and details what is needed to liberate ourselves from their hold on our emotions and behaviors. Gabor Maté is a staff physician at the Portland Hotel, a residence and harm-reduction facility in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. His patients are challenged by life-threatening drug addictions, mental illness, Hepatitis C or HIV, and in many cases, all four.
But if Dr. Maté's patients are at the far end of the spectrum, there are many among us who are also struggling with addictions. Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, work, food, sex, gambling, and excessive inappropriate spending: what is amiss with our lives that we seek such self-destructive ways to comfort ourselves? And why is it so difficult to stop these habits, even as they threaten our health, jeopardize our relationships, and corrode our lives?
Starting with a close view of his drug-addicted patients, Dr. Maté looks at his own history of compulsive behavior, weaving a story of real people who struggle with addiction with the latest research on addiction and the brain. In a bold synthesis of clinical experience, insight and cutting edge scientific findings, Dr. Maté sheds light on this most puzzling of human frailties. He proposes a compassionate approach to helping drug addicts and, for the many behavior addicts among us, to addressing the void addiction is meant to fill.
"I believe there is one addiction process, whether it manifests in the lethal substance dependencies of my Downtown Eastside patients, the frantic self-soothing of overeaters or shopaholics, the obsessions of gamblers, sexaholics and compulsive internet users, or in the socially acceptable and even admired behaviours of the workaholic. Drug addicts are often dismissed and discounted as unworthy of empathy and respect. In telling their stories my intent is to help their voices to be heard and to shed light on the origins and nature of their ill-fated struggle to overcome suffering through substance use. Both in their flaws and their virtues they share much in common with the society that ostracizes them. If they have chosen a path to nowhere, they still have much to teach the rest of us. In the dark mirror of their lives we can trace outlines of our own."
from In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts
©2009 Gabor Maté (P)2011 Post Hypnotic Press Inc.
As someone new to the medical field, I found myself working every day in hospital wards filled disproportionately with people in the grips of addiction, which is comorbid with, and predisposes to, conditions as diverse as depression, ADD, HIV, cancer, and disastrous bacterial infections. I saw how strong the tendency is for health care workers to get angry at these patients, judge them, dismiss them, give up on them. This book helped me open my heart more to these difficult patients by explaining the epidemiology and brain science behind addiction. I think understanding the sources and experience of addiction better can help anyone work with their own addictions or those of another with greater clarity and compassion. Strongly recommended for physicians, nurses, medical students, and other practitioners and trainees in any medical field.
Reading is my favorite thing to do, I love books, especially in audio.
i love the compassion Dr Mate shows for those considered the scum of the earth, it made me realize that society is quick to judge but slow to help. im going to do better from now on , this doc is such a great man , He started a new movement and will be honor one day for sharing his work with the world.
Daniel was a fantastic reader... loved his voice and engagement
Despite getting bogged down in the first 10 chapters; which were good, but did go on quite a long time, I found the book both picked up and became more relevant at about Chapter 10 when Gabor Mate includes himself. His inclusion of himself brings in a courageous vulnerability to the already vulnerable lives he shares . At this marker, he begins weaving together the initial stories, his own story, successes, failures, policies and ways to consider addiction. In the end, I feel like his breadth, depth and scope of addressing addiction and considering humanizing policies and treatment makes this book a must read. I would like to think in the future we could create more liberal, comprehensive, less stigmatizing and healing treatment options for addiction in the US.
I cannot say anything negative about this book! Excellent, heartbreaking at times, informative, love the statistics that are uses, articulate!
I find in my volunteer EMT roll I interact with addicted population quite frequently. I have been bothered by the way I look at this population and my often frustration with the population. This book has help soften me heart and open my mind to treat this as an disease that it is.
Loved it. Workaholism is just like being a drug addict. A must read! it humanizes addictions and the addicted in a compassionate way.
This book changed my perspective immensely! Gabor mate gave me the courage to face my addictive tendency and empathy for my human brothers who suffer from the hungry ghost.
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