A COMPASSIONATE APPROACH TOWARD ADDICTION
Updated: Feb 14, 2020
"THE QUESTION IS NOT: WHY THE ADDICTION? THE QUESTION IS: WHY THE PAIN?
- Gabor Maté
What if we, as a society, addressed addiction differently? What if we dove deeper. What if we explored the situations that led these individuals to choose a relief mechanism that caused them harm? What if we really asked 'Why the pain?'. What if we saw that these individuals were seeking self-acceptance, relief, peace of mind, and a sense of power and place? What if we also saw that these individuals were doing the best they could, with what they knew? What if we brought a little bit more compassion and understanding into our judgements? What if addiction treatment wasn't shamed, but congratulated?
Renowned addiction expert Dr. Maté, in my eyes, is the pioneer in the field of compassionately approaching addiction. What does this approach mean exactly? It means that we recognize addiction as a biopsychosocial construct. One that goes beyond addiction being simply a brain disease. One that explores why the inherent needs of the individual were not fulfilled. One that allows individuals to explore their true nature. One that emphasizes connection, meaning, and fulfilment. What a compassionate approach to addiction absolutely does not look like, is removing substances with zero tolerance and filling time with work and societal demands. In this way, the revolving door keeps swinging.
So what's next? We open up the conversation about what purpose the addictive substance plays in one's life. We create a safe space to explore trauma and pain. We educate on the topics of self soothing, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance. We set a foundation for self exploration and growth. We allow. We encourage truth, we listen, we acknowledge, and we see.
“Only when compassion is present will people allow themselves to see the truth.”
- A.H. Almaas
Until next time,