Monday, March 19, 2012

Dr. Gabor Mate on Addiction and the Brain

Dr. Gabor Mate is working with addicts in the farthest depths of the disease on Vancouver's Lower Eastside, at the Portland Hotel, helping people overcome life long struggles with addiction. Mate also is a vital part of Insite, Vancouver's safe injection facility, and OnSite, their accompanying detox facility. Dr. Mate is the author of the book, "In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts" which describes his experience working with addicts that are at a lower bottom than most could ever imagine. I would highly suggest taking a look at Dr. Mate's books and online videos as they can be a great resource for understanding some of the newest findings on addiction and specifically the brain science behind it.

The video above has some extremely interesting pieces of information. For starters, Mate explains how the environment as a child can contribute to susceptibility to addiction in much more subtle ways than you might think. I also found the part about Endorphins, and how we now know they play a part in connecting children to parents to be extremely interesting. Endorphins are the brains natural painkiller like substance, that also contribute to feelings of joy, happiness, and connection. The reason opiates work is because the receptors that deal with endorphins also can be stimulated by opiates from outside sources like Morphine, Heroin, or Oxycontin. It makes so much sense when you relate this piece of knowledge to a real life addict; when they use drugs they experience an effect chemically similar to that of a loved one comforting them. When you relate that to addict who may have never had a healthy connection with parent to begin with, you can begin to understand how difficult it would be for them to give up their only means of feeling a sense of comfort. Please take the time to watch the video above, as I think it can give a great deal of insight to those struggling to understand their disease or the disease of a loved one.

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