Drugs  
comments_image Comments

Renowned Doctor Gabor Mate on Psychedelics and Unlocking the Unconscious, From Cancer to Addiction

Drug addiction expert speaks on the mind-body connection and the medical and emotional potentials of psychedelics.

Continued from previous page

 
 
Share
 
 
 

The American Society of Addiction Medicine considers that up to 50 percent of the predisposition to addiction is actually caused by genetic inheritance. That is more forward looking in a way than our choice hypothesis, because at least you can’t blame people for the genes they either inherit or pass on to others, but it is no more right than the other hypothesis.

Actually, if you look at it closely and if you understand human brain development which I alluded a little bit earlier in my talk you realize that if five percent of addictions are genetic. That’s not radical to say—and I doubt that anything more than five percent is genetically determined. In fact nothing is genetically determined because we know that even people that inherit genes, and there are some, that are predisposed—not predetermined by predisposed to addiction—some people that inherit genes, in the right environment those genes are never activated. Genes are turned on and off by the environment. Therefore, what is in an environment that causes the addiction?

Of course the belief again then, among the many false beliefs about addiction, is that drugs are addictive. But we know that they're not. Nothing is addictive in itself. I mean, is alcohol addictive? If I asked a question, “How many people have had a glass of wine in your life,” most people would put their hand up. Many of you would put your hand up. But if I asked you, “How many of you have had an alcohol problem,” a much smaller minority would put their hands up.

Now if alcohol was addictive in and of itself then anybody who ever tries it could become an addict. So, the power of an addiction does not reside in a substance. Whether that substance is crystal meth, or heroin, cocaine, cannabis, alcohol, or whether it’s behaviors like sexaholism, internet addiction, gambling, shopping, work and so on, it’s not the actual activity or substance that induces that addiction, it’s that internal relationship to it, the susceptibility. What creates susceptibility? It’s very simple: trauma.

Trauma

The drug addicts I worked with in the downtown eastside Vancouver, every single one of them had been abused as children. In the 12 years I worked there, out of hundreds of women I interviewed in the course of my professional work, there was not one who hadn’t been sexually abused as a child. And that’s not just only my personal opinion; it’s also what the large-scale population studies show. Not even controversial. Not controversial, but completely impenetrable to the medical profession and certainly to governments.  

So, the people who are in jail—there’s an American psychiatrist Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, many of you may know his work on stress and trauma, and he says that 100 percent of the inmates of the criminal justice system in this country are actually traumatized children.

Now, trauma induces its own set of beliefs and coping styles. One coping style is to shut down emotionally so as not to feel. Now you become alien to yourself. So you don’t feel the pain, and as one patient of mine said very eloquently, pardon the language, “The reason I do drugs is because I don’t want to feel the fucking feelings I feel when I don’t do the drugs.”

And Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones’ guitarist, in talking about his heroin habit in his book on addiction, sorry, book on his life —same thing—uh, [life], he called it, talking about his heroin habit, “It’s about the search for oblivion,” he says. The contortions we go through just not to be ourselves for a few hours.