A Celebrity Death, Addiction, and the Media

It is always big news when a celebrity is stricken dead by a substance overdose. What never makes the news is why such tragedies surrounding addiction happen.

The roster of drug- and alcohol-related show-business deaths is ever expanding: Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Keith Moon, Kurt Cobain; in the recent past, Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston; and, most recently of all, Cory Monteith. A complete list would, of course, include many others.

The popular media gathers around the famous dead like vultures around a cadaver, picking their stories clean to feed the public appetite for intimate and irrelevant details. What friends did Cory spend the evening before his demise? How does his girlfriend feel back on the set of Glee, the TV program where Monteith found stardom?

My daughter works part-time as a hostess at a bar in Vancouver’s Gastown area. One night, shortly after Monteith’s death, two British journalists showed up. “We drove up from LA,” they said. “We have heard Cory had some drinks somewhere in this neighbourhood the night he died. We are tracing his last steps. Did he come in here by any chance?” Clearly, for readers in Britain it was of pivotal importance that these intrepid scribes identify the exact watering hole where the actor may have had his last drinks. They had driven over two thousand kilometres to find out.

In our celebrity culture only the demise of a famous person attracts press attention to what is a daily human tragedy across North America and the world. Many other human beings succumb to drugs, an entirely preventable carnage that almost completely eludes public notice. Car crashes, murders, accidental deaths from other causes are the fodder for excited headlines. The death of the drug afflicted passes under the radar.

If a celebrity suffers, the media deems it essential information. When a famous unfortunate, say, Charlie Sheen, publicly displays his bipolar illness and self-medication with alcohol, a nubile woman on each arm, that rivets media notice. If a star dies, that is front-page material until the next celebrity gives birth or sleeps with someone. But even with all this obsessive focus on one person’s decease from drugs, the question of why this happened (much less why it happens to people in general) is seemingly of little interest.

Striking about the coverage of the Monteith saga was the lack of investigation into what it may have been about life that made this talented young man seek refuge in drug use. There was virtually no discussion of why a number of treatments and interventions, since his teenage years, had failed to divert him from his fatal course.

I was encouraged, therefore, when a reporter for People Magazine contacted me for an interview. “Hi Dr Maté. I’m a staff writer at People. We are writing, in the wake of Cory Monteith’s death, about the struggles of addicts, the problems of heroin addiction, and the easy availability of heroin in Vancouver. Seems you would be uniquely qualified to talk as an expert, so I’m hoping we can connect…”

I had no high expectations, given People’s dedication to superficiality and its adoration of the short attention span. Still, I did welcome this opportunity to inject at least a tincture of science and experience into the public discourse. Even at my age, sometimes my own naïveté amazes me.

It did not matter that the reporter seemed not to have researched my very publicly expressed views, having happened upon my name through a contact in Los Angeles. Here was my opportunity to explain my perspective: Addiction is not the fundamental problem, but the addict’s desperate and doomed attempt to solve a problem—that of unbearable emotional pain, self-loathing and emptiness.

Trauma and childhood emotional loss are the template for addictions. They instill the pain, engender the self-loathing, and create the emptiness. Crucially, they program the very chemistry and physiology of the brain to make the cerebral circuits more receptive to the soothing or exciting effects of substances. Interventions, treatment program, laws, social opprobrium do not work—often make the addiction more tenacious, in fact—because they do not address causes, only behaviors. Behaviors are effects and you don’t solve a problem by tampering with effects.

Cory Monteith’s life was a case in point. His parents had divorced when he was seven, after who knows how many years of rancor and stress. He had learning difficulties and, quite likely, ADHD. In the most incisive, and perhaps only in depth analysis of his history, the wonderful journalist Maia Szalavitz described the appalling treatments he had been subjected to:

“Monteith’s history with ineffective and harmful anti-drug programs started almost as soon as he began using, at 13. Between that age and 16, he attended some 12 different schools, including several aimed at ‘troubled teens,’ a phrase that has become shorthand for harsh programs that we now know can backfire.

“During the years when he was locked inside troubled teen programs—1995-1998—tough love reined. Tactics were aimed at “breaking” youth through physical and emotional abuse—everything from solitary confinement, punitive restraint and sleep and food deprivation to public humiliation like wearing signs saying, ‘I am an asshole,’ being made to dress in drag and being forced to scrub bathrooms with the same toothbrush you must later use to brush your teeth.”

Monteith experienced the physiological and psychological consequences of early childhood in a dysfunctional home. Effectively bereft of nurturing adult contact, from adolescence, he was traumatized by a system ostensibly designed to help him. It is a near certainty that none of the treatment programs he later attended ever helped him to understand and overcome the impact of trauma: most treatment programs ignore trauma.

The issue, I pointed out, was not “the easy availability of heroin in Vancouver.” A recent New York Times article lamented the growing problem of heroin in New England where, in New Hampshire for example, forty people died of overdoses in 2012. And heroin is certainly available in LA, where Cory lived and publicly suffered from his opiate addiction. The issue was the terrible misunderstanding, at all levels of our society, of why people become addicted and how they can be helped.

The People reporter seemed genuinely interested in all this material, asked intelligent questions, and expressed appreciation. We spoke for well over half an hour.

The article never appeared, and I didn’t hear from the journalist until I wrote to ask. “The editors were planning a sidebar story on abuse issues with expert commentary, but they scrapped that plan later in the game when space got cut. Sorry about that.”

I understood perfectly. In Britain Kate Middleton gave birth and in Hollywood someone was probably sleeping with someone. How would a discussion of the causes of addiction and of the failure of our current system to understand it compare with matters of such urgent import?

Can we hope that perhaps the next celebrity casualty will ignite the needed discussion around addiction? Unlikely. What is certain is that in the meantime many other humans, unworthy of notice in the media mindset, will be buried daily–victims of drugs and, even more so, victims of ignorance.

  • Kelly
    August 22, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    Lovely redesign on the site. Clean, easy to navigate and read. More, loved this first post and as always, your bold perspective. Keep writing!

    • CINDY
      August 29, 2013 at 2:21 PM

      Fantastic post!… from a brilliant writer. Being a recovering addict myself, I know the hell of addiction to drugs and the bitterness of ‘tough love’ treatment. Truly, the trauma continues….
      Another post stated ‘writing about problems does not solve them.’ I disagree. Dr. Mate inspires all of us that care…. and we are brainstorming here, to find better solutions…… This is not useless. But action is required also.
      I have begun spiritual 12-Step Meetings, as an addition to regular A.A. and O.A. meetings that I attend. I believe that some of us that have found relief from the self-hatred and destructive inner voice, that childhood trauma creates, has an obligation to help others. (if they are capable)
      There Are ways to help the misunderstood addict. The ‘Twelve Step Program’ is the best we have so far – those that are equipped, need to take it One Level Further, as Dr. Mate has made clear……..
      If we are Divinely Inspired, we can make make the healing greater.

  • Barb
    August 22, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    Can we read the article that didn’t get printed either in People or the Georgia Straight?

  • Julia Blushak
    August 22, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    OH – it is a time to breathe out and then gather fresh breath that is informed and caring. Just this week as I acted as ‘hub’ at a planning meeting for a neighbhourhood festival that’s meant to uplift a neighbourhood, one of the community leaders spoke of the benefits of the event to attract new people with money to invest in the real estate and raise the economic level / caliber of people in the area. I had to intervene and remind this fairly reasonable person that just chasing the poor and afflicted away is not what the event is about. When I very clearly said ‘people are suffering here,’ the silence that followed was refreshing. I’m grateful that Dr. Mate can help offset the ignorance and lack of compassion that pervades best intentions.

    • Ewa
      November 30, 2015 at 5:05 PM

      I’m not sure how you know you are done; I was pretty coeinvcnd that we were done. But then God has a sense of humor, and so he decided we weren’t done. That’s always handy Then the decision does not rest on you alone!

  • John Paul Rice
    August 22, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    110% agree here but I think the magazine’s disinterest in covering the causes is not due to an obsession or even our society’s interest in celebrity culture. I believe it is designed as a distraction away from solving problems and I am beginning to believe more and more each day this is a deliberate move by our corporate media and not due to expediency. If we ever did actually begin to understand and think in ways about how our actions could alleviate and possibly end such suffering, we could free ourselves from delusional and magical thinking of fate, destiny and “everything happening (to us) for a reason”. We might begin to see the power that lies within ourselves, how we can truly affect outcomes, find the love within and between each human being and begin feeding ourselves nourishing information that enlightens the hearts and minds of those who are hungry for something better.

    • Barbara
      March 6, 2014 at 5:45 PM

      JPR ~ so true. the distractions and easily-consumed ‘news’ prevent many from seeking ‘nourishing information that enlightens.’ Time to stop feeding the beast and be a light to others . . . . .Barbara

  • Julia Blushak
    August 22, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    From personal experience, I’ve learned that community outreach for health with the best of intentions is a tricky affair. Some people reach for methods and miss the people – Dr. Mate has a gift for making sure the person suffering is at the centre of the healing process – I ‘m sure this site will be beacon for many.

  • Sharon
    August 22, 2013 at 6:08 PM

    I also wish addiction would be dealt with in a serious and professional manner by the media. Thank you for your insight into the very serious disease of addiction and how it is portrayed in the media.

    • Tim
      August 23, 2013 at 6:11 PM

      Unfortunately the media and “serious professional manner” are mutually exclusive terms today.

  • Mary Eldredge
    August 22, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    I agree completely with Kelly. And the joy of decent sized type and double spacing. These are details that enable the content to be absorbed. Thank you so much. And yes, it is a wonderful post. I was completely
    unaware of this “star” but the news of his death I could not avoid. I felt so sad again about the horror and tragedy of drug addiction. It is not the drugs that are the cause of the problem but the pain the individual is suffering. Dr. Mate states this idea so well. I wish I had an answer.

    • Anoir
      November 30, 2015 at 5:20 PM

      Thank you, I’ve recently been sinechrag for information about this subject for a long time and yours is the best I have came upon till now. But, what in regards to the bottom line? Are you positive concerning the source?|What i don’t realize is actually how you are now not really a lot more smartly-favored than you may be right now. You are so intelligent.

  • Ford
    August 22, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    The media will continue reporting that stuff while there is an audience that keeps reading/watching it. Because it sells.
    Addiction like crime etc are societies problems, and what keeps addiction and crime etc alive is that they create money for people,even through advertising. Each and every person is part of society and so it is “our” job and responsibility to deal with it. Not the media, the police or the councils because they will only ever deal with the behaviour (or as Gabor says – the effects) not the cause.
    Might I suggest we all get off our fat arses and actually do something about it rather than sitting around complaining about it and making excuses for it.
    We can take real action by:-
    – Not consuming any addictive substances including the legal ones.
    – Not purchase items that are displayed in advertising.
    – Not watching/reading or even speaking anything that promotes addiction, violence, etc
    – Not allowing others to enable our own bad behaviours.
    – Join a community group so you can be of service to others and model correct behaviours.
    – Let your actions be your words. Writing about it until the “cows come home” will not change peoples behaviours or the cause. Ever.

    Addiction and crime will be around as long as there are people who can profit from it. Change that and you change society. Do your part today, refuse to purchase anything in any form that contributes to or supports addictive and criminal behaviour and go and support a worthy charity. They need your (action) help.

  • Peter
    August 22, 2013 at 9:53 PM

    I am male, 63. 6 months ago was introduced to your book, Scattered. I have since read it 6 times, upon each new read I am able to understand more about myself. I believe part of the difficulty with change is the painstakingly slow steps, (baby steps at that) one has to traverse before one can even have any hope of a step forward. I cannot begin to express the depth of my appreciation for the work you have done and that which you continue to pour into our hearts and minds. Kindness and Compassion from a deep well.

  • David Fields
    August 22, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    Thank you for your thoughtful and compassionate voice that speaks for the weary and downtrodden, regardless of social status. Addiction pervades every sphere of society and is a huge cry for love and the recognition of our Innate wholeness. Your work is a Godsend.

  • Wendy-Ann
    August 23, 2013 at 1:25 AM

    All too often, society looks upon those troubled by addictive behaviours, as ‘dirty’ or ‘shameful’. Perhaps if we look upon these individuals as vulnerable souls in need of an escape from horrible pain, we can begin the process of reaching out and educating those who discriminate, so that together we can help them.

  • Cindy
    August 23, 2013 at 2:04 AM

    I do so gratefully appreciate your writings.

  • Taniwha - New Zealand
    August 23, 2013 at 4:06 AM

    I really appreciate the depth in which you write. I understand exactly what you mean when you say the media are dedicated to superficiality and have an adoration for the short attention span.

    Thanks for brodening my way of thinking, allowing me to see beyond that of the superficial.

  • matthew ogboru
    August 23, 2013 at 7:03 AM

    Dear Gabor,
    My son showed me the light of the shadow that i have been focusing on all my Life.
    While i was shouting and humiliating him about how stupid i thought he is doing drugs at his adult age, he introduced you to me! DOC, in our darkness at home you drilled a hole and through that hole we now know that our Eyes are not closed! THANK YOU.

  • Wendy
    August 23, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    I am very grateful for this blog post. My son died a week before Corey Monteith, from the same cause. At the age of 25, he suffered from years of depression and lack of self-esteem brought on, I am sure, by the childhood traumas and loss (father left when he was 12) that Dr. Maté describes. Depression is a horrible scourge. Everyone focuses on the drug use. Even my non-celebrity son was almost the subject of a piece in the local newspaper about heroin use in the suburbs. We were able to squash it because (as his brother said), “My brother’s life will not be defined as a cautionary tale for teenage drug users.” Always, the sense that the drug itself was the least of the problems. It was the pain that led him to attempt, and so tragically fail, to medicate himself.

  • LC
    August 23, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    Thank you doctor. I have been struggeling to understand the “why” of Cory’s demise for a while now and just searching for answers. I knew it had to be much deeper than him just being “a junkie”. I really could’nt accept that as the answer. He had been sober for many years and suddenly fell off the wagon seemingly out of the blue. I just sensed that there were some underlying issues he was dealing with. Its all very sad, but thank you for your insight.

  • Rosemary
    August 23, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    I live in Cincinnati, Ohio and work as an addiction counselor. Addiction to heroin has become epidemic in proportion here. I work with a very diverse economic population, but generally white Appalachian. Addiction is a very complex problem and I truly do not believe we are viewing it nor addressing it effectively. I am very much interested in Dr. Mate’s ideas and would like to know more about his approach to addiction. Much of what I have read and heard (I watched YouTube videos), I agree with. One thing I do believe, is that addiction is a natural by-product of our current consumer-based society and goes much deeper than merely the drug itself. Of course, early trauma plays an important role in addiction, but it does not stand alone. I hope to learn more about Dr. Mate’s work and I am considering traveling to Canada for one of his lectures.

    • Chele
      September 17, 2013 at 3:44 PM

      Dr Mate speaks in the US often. Also Recovery 2.0 seminar coming up online.

  • Rita Bozi
    August 23, 2013 at 11:07 PM

    Hi Gabor, As always you are on the mark. So well expressed! I too share your naïveté. I am forever convinced that if there is a way to better understand ourselves, or to plumb the depths of what we are capable of, in the most positive sense of that word, why would we not take that road? I am overly enthusiastic regarding the notion that ‘wouldn’t everyone want to at least crack open that window?’ Wouldn’t everyone want to pay attention to an opportunity presented for understanding? To at least entertain that there are reasons why we do the things we do? No doubt it takes commitment, diligence, heart and courage to find a kinder way to exist with ourselves, within ourselves and with each other. It takes a whole lot more than expressing sympathy to someone’s tragic death and proclaiming ‘what a great person they were while they were alive.’ It is easy to be distracted by the look of greatness and then be blind to the stirrings under the mask. As you say, what really happened in Corey’s history, and all those who suffer from addiction. And may I add, all of us who have a past, because we all do, and we have all had traumas large or small. I was struck by that moment in your blog when you wrote about taking over a half hour to express what you knew to the reporter from People Magazine, what you have deeply experienced, what you have devoted your life to understanding, from your deepest sincerity, and were met with, ‘that got scrapped.’ The work is hard, the work is different, the work demands that we all look deep within. It demands a kind of presence that precludes instant satisfaction. But delving into the depths, the kind of work real healing demands, takes guts. And we are not immune to each others’ poison. Which is why we owe it to each other to listen, learn and stay present for the profound experience ‘living’ demands. And then it can become a rich life. Thank you as always for your tireless bravery to express what you know and for sharing it so freely. Gratefully, Rita

  • Lisa Marie
    August 24, 2013 at 1:40 PM

    Dear Dr. Gabor,
    Thank you for producing this video. I now understand better why my brother was addictive to alcohol and cigaretttes and especially why “he was not afraid to die but afraid to live”. He passed away alone in a hospital at 57 last year. I also understand how and why the deep suffering was transferred from generation to generation and especially how the brain cannot develop normally and lacks the proper circuits to feel normal. I believe it has been transferred to his own children. What I don’t understand is why did he became an addict while I develop anxiety and depression instead and why my father was an alcoholic while my mother suffered from severe anxiety. My parents were victims of the war as well and I cannot imagine what they have seen and suffered through during their young life. My father was in the war and spent many years in a concentration camp. Yet, the suffereing is the same for each generation no matter the experiences. Now that I am equipped with this knowledge, what do I do with it? How can I get better? How can I fill this emptiness that could only have been filled by my parents and family, without destroying my life. I feel deeply hurt and almost feel guilty for not being able to understand my brother and parents and be there for him during his last moments without being dragged down with him. I wasn’t strong enough to watch him kill himself slowly. I wasn’t strong enough to reach out to him while he was hurtfully pushing me away.

    Best regards,

  • Lou
    August 25, 2013 at 11:00 PM

    I am new to you, heard you for the first time on KEXP this morning, you speak impressively, and with a clear and honest mind it seems. I look forward to your book, just downloaded on Kindle app. In the realm of hungry ghost.

  • Pamela Blyth Nyznik
    August 26, 2013 at 3:45 PM

    Gabor Mate,
    How often must you hit the nail on the head before the people who need to hear this and open their minds and hearts to the truth. I thank you for your being.

  • Tom
    August 28, 2013 at 7:48 PM

    Speaking as a trauma survivor (raped by 3 pedophiles and no help in a severly disfunctional “immediate family”), one thing I’m sturggling with is not fearing your normal evil side. Anger is bad. Therefore, turn away and literally silently scream so no one will hear you or abuse you.

    The fact that those thoughts are there doesn’t mean that I’m some kind of sick monster. Instead, I’m struggling for some sense of validation (among other things).

    • Blaire
      August 30, 2013 at 1:49 PM

      I am 53 and am just now getting help with the incest that occurred with my father. Personally, after many years of therapy, I am baffled as to why none of my previous therapists focused on the worst scar that I’ve carried my entire life.
      One doctor referred me to a Sexual Abuse agency in my city that is free.(!) I have made more progress in several months of work with a sex abuse specialist, than in over two decades of normal therapy. Sexual abuse is the most devastating nightmare that I know of – ‘leaving the worst self-hatred… and inability to trust or have any normal interpersonal relationships… and I’ve experienced violent physical abuse also. Call every hospital and your chamber of commerce and every community help association to find out what is available. I’d never ever heard of this agency until one doctor told me about it. They’re not all easy to find. Good luck. 🙂

  • Christine
    August 30, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    So insightful, thank you! Another wonderfully compassionate approach to addiction is by Mary O’Malley, The Gift of our Compulsions…

  • Heather Dukes
    September 1, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    Dear Sir: It is mind boggling to me how our Canadian Society as a whole, behaves in a manner of turning a blind eye to the word “addiction”. You have displayed concrete evidence as to the most common questions “why?”. What I can not understand is, when given the answer, most people(journalist, politicians, health care providers,etc) will not listen to the factual information. As an addict in recovery it is my responsibility to get to the root of my issues,problems,and dilemma’s, however it seems to me that our North American culture will even listen or HEAR the definition than how is our people going to get treated properly. The root of our problems (crime,domestic violence, child abuse, etc) is mostly addictions/and or mental health related. I just don’t understand as to why the people in charge will not HEAR what we are saying. Especially when it comes from you.

    • Chele
      September 17, 2013 at 3:51 PM

      Many avoid the topic as it requires them to look at their own substance use. Magazine editors included ;(

  • Kristin
    September 4, 2013 at 8:19 AM

    I thank you from the center of my heart for your courage, dignity, intelligence and compassion. I am a recovered alcoholic. I’m not a celebrity nor a down-and-out type, but I have suffered greatly and I’ve also recovered beautifully. Today I am kind. I’m kind to myself and I’m kind to others. My life has gotten so much bigger and richer for having the knowledge that all my errs and errs of all humans and society come from a confused attempt to ease suffering. I recognize this as not an inherently bad thing. I then take appropriate action or mindful thought to ‘be’ and be of benefit to others.
    One lit candle can light a thousand more.
    Namaste Gabor, Namaste

  • Daniel Björkman
    September 4, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    Dear Gabor!
    You are truly a beacon of light in the vast darkness of ignorance and a splendid writer.
    Following your reasoning I have come to understand so much about myself, my addiction issues, my mother and the pain I inherited from her.
    in these lines I am as sincere as one can be.

    Thank you for a good article and for injecting some reason into an otherwise impaired discourse on the subject.
    /Daniel from Sweden

  • September 11, 2013 at 1:32 PM

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    • Romany
      November 30, 2015 at 5:03 PM

      It’s good to get a fresh way of lokinog at it.

    • May
      December 8, 2015 at 11:17 AM

      First I would like to say congratulations for all you do , I am from Queens originally and currently live in Syracuse NY if people were in touch wih thier community and cared things would be better, Syracuse no better you live here why do you throw trash everywhere etc. I would like also to say Hello to my friend Tanya Rodriguez from years gone by Hello. Please excuse my gripe session. I served this country for 9 years and nothing changed, still treated like second rate well I got to start my day Have a great day all

  • Dr Andrew Kinsella
    September 24, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    Thankyou for this highly intelligent post. It is far more insightful than the absurd and destructive “just say no” approach favoured by the authorities in countries like Australia that are in the Anglo-US axis.

    The comment about thee absurdity of treating effects rather than causes really hits home.

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  • Herczog Maria
    September 30, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    Thanks a lot for the presentation(s) in Budapest, however not much hope in the current situation. There is another group of children, those deprived of family care, living in institutions (over 600 000 in Central and Eastern Europe alone. We have tried to use the arguments you are referring to, like brain research (Bucharest project an excellent example), investment in children and early years as the most “profitable” form ever with limited success. Parent education, positive parenting, helping parents learn about the developmental needs of children would be essential if accepted that parenting has become more demanding, more expectations occur and still the need for learning and feeling not only relying on challenged instincts and low quality sporadic information and personal experience is not enough.

  • Julie
    September 30, 2013 at 8:37 PM

    I have understood this for almost 2 decades. I have read most of the work done by those you will find in Dr. Maté’s books’ references (and then some).

    I started on my road to knowledge in the attempt to understand what happened to me as a newborn: I was taken from my mother as I drew my first breath, warehoused for 6 weeks, then went to a dysfunctional family.

    I spend tens of thousands of dollars on therapists through the years looking for help. ALL the therapists either told me outright or inferred that I should be grateful for being adopted. There was absolutely no recognition of the trauma I experienced due to losing my mother at birth.

    I knew I’d experienced a major – primal – trauma (and likely others soon after), yet no therapist was trained or willing to acknowledge it — much less help me work through it. I am now 60 years old, and there is still no help even in the major city where I live.

    We live in a punitive society, starting with the Western parenting model. Until we learn to accept that children are innately dependent on unconditional holistic (body mind spirit) nurturing, we will never accept or address the underlying reasons for addiction. Instead we will keep filling our profitable prisons and abusive/punitive “rehab” institutions.

  • Principal
    October 1, 2013 at 3:11 AM

    I am a principal of a First Nation School and I see traumatized students daily….it’s heartbreaking….and difficult to begin to try to find a way to help these young people….no one has the patience to work with them or to love them. I wish there was a way that we could help these troubled souls.

    • Nagy
      November 30, 2015 at 5:14 PM

      Action requires knlogedwe, and now I can act!

  • Brenda
    October 1, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    Just wondered where to start in regards to councelling for a loved one with a long term addiction… It is difficult and frustrating to find qualified help.

  • maggie
    October 1, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    Oh Dr Gabor Mate,

    I have been working as an aod counsellor for 20 years and its so refreshing to know that there are professionals like you who speak my language and so eloquently name the so many facets of this very shiny diamond! The trauma, pain, deep deep sadness and spiritual disconnection goes unnoticed by so many colleagues who are so focused on trying to manage the substance/s. It is my belief that as the new human / earth /consciousness continues to expand and ascend that a new paradigm of how we can truly assist people in community and treatment centres will be created. Dr Gabor your understanding of the science and your personal experiences of your own trauma let alone your courage to delve into the shadows of our incredibly curious mind with Ibogaine to assist with your healing affirm to me you a truly one of the wayshowers in this wonderful, complex and so misunderstood world of addictions. I believe you are helping me find some of the jigsaw puzzles pieces and its exciting. I had a long history of addiction/trauma/abuse/sadness and disconnection and now in my mid 50s I am experiencing joy, hope, and feelings of connectedness and it’s coming from relearning and reremembering who I truly am.
    Bless you Gabor and please know your knowledge and wisdom will help provide the keys to the many doors that have been firmly locked by big pharma and that makes me sooooo happy!!

    • Ford
      October 6, 2013 at 9:35 AM

      To Principal
      I don’t know which country you live in but there is a way to help troubled souls. I do not know the answer myself and I did ponder that very question myself while I was patrolling our area for crime at 2am of Sunday morning. But at least I took some physical action and that one little step will get me closer to the answer. Might I suggest you take that one little step……….
      PS Maggie – I am pleased you found a way to relearn how you are. I have a long history of addictions myself and while I acknowledge that treatment centres are needed in some instances I wonder if there is a correlation between addicts and the number of treatment centres in any one city. In my suburb we have a high crime rate. Where the police are the crime is. If we were to setup up treatment centres I fear it will make our drug/crime situation worse.
      Ford
      Christchurch, New Zealand

  • Magi
    October 4, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    It is in the light of your wisdom that I remember my own. As a counsellor working in an integrated health clinic in Vancouver, I align with your perspective. You offer deep truth and a way out of ignorance (there’s so much of it!) and I want to thank you for your presence, your openness, your heart and now your blog! Write on . . .

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    November 20, 2013 at 12:49 PM

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  • Tom
    November 26, 2013 at 2:20 AM

    In my overall healing, I’m trying to stick to a holistic approach. If my diet is clean and I do other things to try and get my stress out and then keep it down, it’s the right approach. Despite that, at times it feels like my PTSD symptoms are getting worse. Nightmares happen more and are more violent. On bad days with anger, I go out and feel like everyone else is a threat. On the other hand, every mental health source that i trust says the same thing. Considering your severe history of abuse, this is scary and horrible at times, but also bound to happen. It’s one of my mantras every day: it’s not my fault, I did nothing wrong, I’m not “abnormal”.

    • Denise
      February 17, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      Hi Tom,
      This comment is for you and for people in the same situation as you.
      My cure for my PTSD has come from daring to feel the emotions that get triggered by so many things. It has been vital that I feel them without letting them overwhelm me again — which is the reason why they were shut down in the first place. I do that by consciously controlling how fast I feel them. It is possible (sometimes) to bring them to a place where they are bearable.
      By feeling those emotions without acting on them I process them. Behind those emotions is always an unmet need. I use the needs list of Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg when I reach this point in my processing to help me know how to name that unmet need. That need is always in agony and I feel that too.
      At the end of this process (which usually takes a while) I have one less thing that is triggering me. I am permannently healed of one tiny bit of trauma.

      Over time those tiny bits have added up and I am now in a much better place emotionally than I once was.

      Good luck to you.

      • Rambo
        November 30, 2015 at 5:08 PM

        Cool! That’s a clever way of loonkig at it!

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  • December 13, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    I believe this website has got some real fantastic information for everyone :D. “Time–our youth–it never really goes, does it It is all held in our minds.” by Helen Hoover Santmyer.

  • Holly
    January 27, 2014 at 2:40 AM

    Gabor, do you have anything to say about prescription drug addiction, which can happen even when you follow the prescribing doctor’s instructions religiously? I had to quit my antidepressant, Amoxapine, after developing Tardive Dyskinesia, and the withdrawal was murderous. Then I had to quit the Ativan the doctor put me on to ease the symptoms, and that was worse. I take Ambien, too, and discovered that also has to go (I’m 67, and my new Dr. almost fainted when I told him I’d been prescribed 10 mg. a day for years—plus I’m sick of having to beg the insurance company like a junkie). Strange, the further I get from the drugs, the more I’m convinced they were only band-aids in the first place, and in the end only made my issues worse.

  • Denise
    February 17, 2014 at 11:35 AM

    Sounds like you felt disappointment when after taking the time to give that reporter an interview it was never printed. It is easy to blame oneself for being gullible in such instances. In my opinion (for what that is and isn’t worth) you fell prey to the master manipulators like nearly everyone does at least sometimes.
    There is fluff between the one opinion that gets to be aired in the news because they want it to be that way — they think that that is good for them.
    Nearly every norm in our societies has been set to be of advantage to these same big bullies — which is why it tends to be that being out of the ordinary is what we are taught to view as suspicious if not out right evil.
    We can know all this and still dare to hope that these things will change without us making it do that. That hope has something good in it even when it is proved wrong.

  • BJ
    March 11, 2014 at 3:07 PM

    I find it interesting that these posts are all concerning chemical addictions. Does anyone have any experience dealing with someone who has an addiction to religion? Symptoms include, constant prayer, multiple church attendance, distorted views of divine calling, inability to integrate into society, etc. I would be interested to hear opinions of this topic from others.

  • mlawsonTexas
    March 13, 2014 at 8:45 PM

    As a young man I choose a mentor, a substitute father of knowledge, if you will. I camped out on his metaphorical doorstep and soaked up the sunshine. If I was younger, I’d be in BC, hoeing vegetables in Gabors’ garden……soaking up the sunshine. Like minds come together to change the world, some for bad, some for good. Thank you Dr. Mate, sincerely.
    Mark

  • Kurt E. Wilkens
    August 12, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    Yes Dr. Mate, Childhood trauma is the root of addiction and “mental illness”. “An obsession is correct as far as affect and category, but false due to substitution by analogy and chronological displacement.” Freud knew a long time ago. Obsession-Basically any feeling, thought, and/or behavior done over and over (compulsively) to keep us out of the Original Contradiction. Yes we are told we are loved or it is implied in our childhoods, but our parent(s) mistreat us in various, myriad ways-ignore us, contempt on us, abandon us, hit us, sexually touch us, glare at us, ad infinitum. We become reactive in thoughts, feelings, and behaviors hence we react to our original pain unconsciously in yes addictions and “mental illness” The words “mental illness” are but descriptive. In fact Thomas Insel MD director of the NIMH calls the DSm-5 descriptive. There is a book about the DSM-5, The Book of Woe. A description is not a prescription, rather a proscription, banning a way out. And this week another celebrity succumbs…

    • Isabel
      April 21, 2017 at 3:28 PM

      “…but false due to substitution by analogy and chronological displacement.”
      What does it mean?

  • Lyle Jones
    November 25, 2015 at 10:36 PM

    Not a year. Post modernism says a year is not just water and salt. It is also joy, pride, grief, and fury.

  • Lyle Jones
    November 25, 2015 at 10:36 PM

    Darn not a year, a tear. Jesh.

  • Lyle Jones
    November 25, 2015 at 10:44 PM

    It is the moral compass of Frankle, and Fromm and you that I know is what is the energy needed to get me recovered and leave all else the better for it. I think my Narrative is one of great deep conscious experience and meaning and it may be a blessing that lessens suffering if told by the right voice.

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    April 6, 2017 at 12:09 PM

    It is one subject matter that several concerned government and non-profit organizations are trying their best to resolve.
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  • Isabel
    April 21, 2017 at 3:24 PM

    ¡Espectacular Gabor!Nadie habla de esto.
    Muchas gracias.
    Thank you for sharing!

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