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Gabor Maté: How Childhood Trauma Leads to Addiction

Addiction, says physician and author Gabor Maté, is not fundamentally a brain disorder or a consequence of genetics. Rather, it’s a doomed attempt to escape the pain and suffering rooted in childhood trauma. For anyone with a Loved One struggling with substance use, this connection is vital to understand.

Trauma, Gabor Maté points out, is not really the bad things that can happen to us—abuse, injury, violence, neglect—but the harmful processes that occur inside us as a result of these things. For children especially, such trauma can have lifelong consequences, harming our ability to form and maintain relationships, take joy in everyday life, pursue our passions and our dreams.

It can also lead us to reach for anything—drugs, porn, gambling, excessive eating—that seems to promise relief. When that substance or behavior harms us in term, however, the bad feelings are only reinforced, creating a circle as vicious as any.

This short, compassionate video—beautifully illustrated by the After Skool animation team—is focused more on illuminating the problem than solving it. But that’s a vital first step. We think the insights offered here will be of value to absolutely anyone dealing with a Loved One’s substance use. And by so powerfully diagramming the issue, Dr. Maté makes it possible, at the end, for us to see the path to recovery much more clearly. Have a look!

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LEAVE A COMMENT / ASK A QUESTION

In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)