I’ve written here before about my conversations with Dr. Gabor Maté, and his life-changing book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, a comprehensive exploration of what addiction is, its causes and consequences, and much more. As well as being a bestselling author, Dr. Maté is a renowned speaker, highly sought after for his expertise on a range of topics, including addiction, stress, and childhood development.
I was curious about family members who are dealing with a loved one’s addiction. What can they do for those who are caught in the grips of active addiction? It mattered to me because when people are that deep in addiction, they’ve lost themselves—they’re gone in a way. I know I was. I know there was nothing my family could have done no matter how much they wanted to help me.
Gabor didn’t agree with me. According to him, “You don’t know that. What you do know is what they tried didn’t work, but you don’t know that there’s nothing they could have done. In one sense, you are 100 percent right: There’s nothing they can directly do to change your mind. There’s nothing they can directly do to change your mental status. There’s no way that they can talk to you, advise you, control you, beg you, accuse you. That does not mean there’s nothing they could have done.