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Publisher Description

In this timely and profoundly original new book, bestselling writer and physician Gabor Maté looks at the epidemic of addictions in our society, tells us why we are so prone to them and what is needed to liberate ourselves from their hold on our emotions and behaviours.

For over seven years Gabor Maté has been the staff physician at the Portland Hotel, a residence and harm reduction facility in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. His patients are challenged by life-threatening drug addictions, mental illness, Hepatitis C or HIV and, in many cases, all four. But if Dr. Maté’s patients are at the far end of the spectrum, there are many others among us who are also struggling with addictions. Drugs, alcohol, tobacco, work, food, sex, gambling and excessive inappropriate spending: what is amiss with our lives that we seek such self-destructive ways to comfort ourselves? And why is it so difficult to stop these habits, even as they threaten our health, jeopardize our relationships and corrode our lives?

Beginning with a dramatically close view of his drug addicted patients, Dr. Maté looks at his own history of compulsive behaviour. He weaves the stories of real people who have struggled with addiction with the latest research on addiction and the brain. Providing a bold synthesis of clinical experience, insight and cutting edge scientific findings, Dr. Maté sheds light on this most puzzling of human frailties. He proposes a compassionate approach to helping drug addicts and, for the many behaviour addicts among us, to addressing the void addiction is meant to fill.

I believe there is one addiction process, whether it manifests in the lethal substance dependencies of my Downtown Eastside patients, the frantic self-soothing of overeaters or shopaholics, the obsessions of gamblers, sexaholics and compulsive internet users, or in the socially acceptable and even admired behaviours of the workaholic. Drug addicts are often dismissed and discounted as unworthy of empathy and respect. In telling their stories my intent is to help their voices to be heard and to shed light on the origins and nature of their ill-fated struggle to overcome suffering through substance use. Both in their flaws and their virtues they share much in common with the society that ostracizes them. If they have chosen a path to nowhere, they still have much to teach the rest of us. In the dark mirror of their lives we can trace outlines of our own.
from In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts

Daniel Maté
hr min
July 24
Vintage Canada

Customer Reviews

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In the realm of Hungry Ghosts

I had the privilege of first reading this book and then hearing the author speak. This author is right on the money. This theory fits our society today and makes all the puzzle peices fit. While there is a place for medical treatment, there is a whole realm of people who don't fit into the system. The ,medical one size fits all approach is actually encouraging people to depend on medication and then we blame them when they become dependant. It ironically sounds like colonialism with bigger and better tricks. I worry that a lot of us who feel secure in our homes and jobs may find ourselves in the same situation without recognizing it. There is a certain sector of people who don't and can't fit the system and they are falling between the cracks. I have seen the frustration of health care systems,et al. when dealing with these people and frustrated with mental health that we can't fix them, put them away, restrain them in some way. Inevitably the cost of treatment is phenomenal.

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