Because it’s a myth that drugs are addictive. Drugs are not by themselves addictive, because most people who try most drugs never become addicted. So the question is: why are some people vulnerable to getting addicted? Just like food is not addictive but to some people it is, shopping is not addictive but to some people it is, television is not addictive but to some people it is. So the question is: why the susceptibility?
Now if you look at the drugs like heroin, like morphine, like codeine, if you look at cocaine, if you look at alcohol, these are all pain killers. In one way or another, they all soothe pain. And thus the real question in addiction is not why the addiction, but why the pain?
Keith Richards, the lead guitarist of the Rolling Stones, wrote that the addiction was all about looking for oblivion, looking for forgetting. He says “the contortions that we go through just not to be ourselves for a few hours.”
The Buddhists have this idea of the hungry ghosts, the hungry ghosts are these creatures with large empty bellies and small, scrawny necks and tiny little mouths, so they can never get enough, they can never fill this emptiness on the inside. And we are all hungry ghosts in this society, we all have this emptiness and so many of us are trying to fill that emptiness from the outside and the addiction is all about trying to fill that emptiness from the outside.
Now, if you want to ask the question of why people are in pain, you can’t look at their genetics, you have to look at their lives. And in the case of my patients, my highly addicted patients, it’s very clear why they are in pain. Because they have been abused all of their lives, they began life as abused children. All of the women I have worked with over a twelve year period, hundreds of them, they had all been sexually abused as children. And the men had been traumatized as well; the men had been sexually abused, neglected, physically abused, abandoned and emotionally over and over again. And that’s why the pain.
Dr. Mate does not believe drugs are not addictive to some people. His contention is that the drugs are not the main factor driving the addiction. In the war on drugs, we attempt to wage a war on a substance but invariably wage a war on people.
During Vietnam, some might conclude that the mass addiction of US soldiers was the result of the heroine. But 90% of Veterans stopped using on coming home. The real problem was the psychological trauma of having to shoot at and be shot by other human beings.
We’ve heard of experiments where mice will spurn food and self care, in order to feed an induced drug addiction. More recent experiments have shown, when these same mice are released from their metal cages and put in an enriched environment, the addiction stops.
. Time to end the war on drugs and minister to the wounded.