Welcome back to our review of Gabor Mate’s Book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. I want to share a few bits from Chapter 3. Specifically, the premise that Dr. Mate puts forth that addiction is a “flight from distress.” He’s very explicit. “Far more than a quest for pleasure, chronic substance use is the addict’s attempts to escape distress.” What he’s saying is this, addicts are compelled to use substances and engage in behaviors in order to feel better. More often than not, in the background, there’s some painful circumstance or condition.  

AddictDepression, anxiety, PTSD, ADD and or any number of other chronic stress-related conditions push an addict to seek relief in their drug of choice or in medicating behaviors. Interestingly, Mate points out that the same brain circuits that feel physical pain are also active during experiences of emotional pain. ‘When people speak of feeling emotional pain, they are being quite accurate.’ Mate states very strongly that ‘hurt’ is at the center of all addictive behaviors.

In my next post we’ll explore the hallmarks of addiction.

For those readers who would like to go deeper, way deeper, check out the work of Eric Garland.

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