DR. GABOR MATÉ: The hardcore drug addicts that I treat, but according to all studies in the States, as well, are, without exception, people who have had extraordinarily difficult lives. And the commonality is childhood abuse. In other words, these people all enter life under extremely adverse circumstances. Not only did they not get what they need for healthy development, they actually got negative circumstances of neglect. I don’t have a single female patient in the Downtown Eastside who wasn’t sexually abused, for example, as were many of the men, or abused, neglected and abandoned serially, over and over again. And that’s what sets up the brain biology of addiction. In other words, the addiction is related both psychologically, in terms of emotional pain relief, and neurobiological development to early adversity.And...this incredible post by BFP at Flip Flopping Joy, more to the point:
Unfortunately, my profession, the medical profession, puts all the emphasis on genetics rather than on the environment, which, of course, is a simple explanation. It also takes everybody off the hook.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, it takes people off the hook?
DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, if people’s behaviors and dysfunctions are regulated, controlled and determined by genes, we don’t have to look at child welfare policies, we don’t have to look at the kind of support that we give to pregnant women, we don’t have to look at the kind of non-support that we give to families... And so, if it’s all caused by genetics, we don’t have to look at those social policies; we don’t have to look at our politics that disadvantage certain minority groups, so cause them more stress, cause them more pain, in other words, more predisposition for addictions; we don’t have to look at economic inequalities. If it’s all genes, it’s all—we’re all innocent, and society doesn’t have to take a hard look at its own attitudes and policies.
If people who become severe addicts, as shown by all the studies, were for the most part abused children, then we realize that the war on drugs is actually waged against people that were abused from the moment they were born, or from an early age on. In other words, we’re punishing people for having been abused.
As I’ve worked through this [sugar] addiction, I’ve kept asking myself over and over again. Why do we expect individual responses to what are ultimately the vestiges of (slavery, colonialism, patriarchy, nationalism, heteroviolence, etc)?...and so much more, in that post...
What is addiction, but a reaction to racism, to sexism, to heteroviolence, etc?
Is it possible to take better care of yourself when living under such extraordinary violence? Is it possible to survive alone under the burden of structural violence?
~The personal is political~
I want to write lots more about addiction, forms of "self-harm", responses to abuse and oppression... Today though I only seem to be able to scrap-book other people's thoughts here.