In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
In this timely and profoundly original new book, bestselling writer and physician Gabor Maté looks at the epidemic of addictions in our society, tells us why we are so prone to them and what is needed to liberate ourselves from their hold on our emotions and behaviours.
For over seven years Gabor Maté has been the 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 others 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?
Beginning with a dramatically close view of his drug addicted patients, Dr. Maté looks at his own history of compulsive behaviour. He weaves the stories of real people who have struggled with addiction with the latest research on addiction and the brain. Providing 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 behaviour 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
The Only Home Hes Ever
The Lethal Hold of Drugs
The Keys of Paradise
You Wouldnt Believe My Life Story
Beethovens Birth Room
Theres Got to Be Some Light
Poor Substitutes for Love
IMAGINING A HUMANE REALITY
o Know Thine Enemy
A Failed War
Freedom of Choice and the Choice of Freedom
2 Imagining an Enlightened Social Policy on Drugs
The Power of Compassionate Curiosity
Takes One to Know One
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What Is Addiction?
A Different State of the Brain
Through a Needle a Warm Soft Hug
Cocaine Dopamine and Candy Bars
Like a Child Not Released
HOW THE ADDICTED BRAIN DEVELOPS
Trauma Stress and the Biology of Addiction
Its Not in the Genes
THE ADDICTION PROCESS
Too Much Time on External Things
The Internal Climate
The Four Steps Plus One
Sobriety and the External Milieu
A Word to Families Friends and Caregivers
There Is Nothing Lost
Attention Deficit Disorder
The Twelve Steps
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