An interesting listen.
An interesting listen.
Thanks Benjamin for the question.
Dr Gabor Mate has an extensive experience with addiction and why people are addicted to substances.
My takeaways from this and other discussions with Dr Mate are the following.
Individual responsibility is important but we must not forget that we are creatures who develop in social context. And we do manifest social injustice and trauma that have been caused on us.
When talking about responsibility in the context of addicts and addiction we must be clear what it is that we mean by the word responsibility. The word responsibility makes one think of : who’s guilty or who’s at fault! So maybe that’s not the correct word to use in that context.
We rather need to focus on respons ability. Not everyone who is traumatized becomes an addict but all addicts have been traumatized at some point in their life. And we know that the impact of trauma on brain is that it loses it ability to respond and that’s very important to know, because people persist to think that addicts don’t want help or that even when help is given to them they go back to their addiction for the wrong reasons.
We need to help them realize and restore their faith in their ability. And to help them understand the root of the trauma and its manifestation in their life.
All addictions are coping mechanisms, so the drug itself isn’t the problem, taking that drug away by banning etc or sending the person to jail isn’t going to solve anything, that’s not the root of the problem because the individual was using that addiction to cope with the actual problem. Most of the time it’s because they feel that their lifes lack meaning, so question is why it lacks meaning and what sort of meaning do they feel they achieve by their addiction.
My personal interest in Dr Mate developed as I have myself suffered from trauma in my childhood and adolescent and took to self medicate with painkillers. I needed to understand why I did that, because I hated that I even let myself go down that route. Another person who also gets into these subjects in a very interesting matter is the author Johann Hari who has spent a lot of time visiting various countries and people to research depression and addiction, and also how some countries have ended the war on drugs and actually developed new methods to solve the problem instead of making it worse.
To paraphrase Johann Hari here, we shouldn’t call it addiction it’s more of bonding issue. We are social creatures who need to bond with other living creatures. When we’re alienated or deprived of that we bond with substances or material. For example WHO has declared gaming addiction a real problem as of recent time.
Johann also talks about countries such as Netherlands and Norway who have adopted the Swiss method of dealing with the heroin epidemic. They provide free heroin clinics where addict can go and get free injections of heroin under supervision of course, for one so that they don’t overdose but also so that they don’t sell it to someone else.
The only requirement that they have is that the person agrees to use their time productively, instead of spending time doing illegal stuff in order to finance their drug use, they use it to find housing and job.
You can go to these clinics for the rest of your life if you wish but majority of people quit going once they get their lives in order, they don’t want to shoot up heroin anymore and numb themselves, because they’ve found meaning in their life.
I should mention there are much better interviews with Dr Mate than the one I posted above.
That’s fascinating and insightful, thank you for sharing that. I’ll do a shoutout in this week’s meeting.
Perhaps we can schedule a meeting to unpack everything you’ve said here. Considering the current schedule, maybe the end of April would be the best fit. Would that work for you?
Thanks, I’d be honored to be a part the discussion it sounds fun. Early May would work better for me, I’ll be going through a knee surgery end of March so I need a little time to recover from that.