How Childhood Stress And Trauma Spark Drug Dependence

In this video, Dr. Gabor Maté untangles the complex connections between the stresses of Western society, the prevalence of addiction and the so-called War on Drugs.

Maté, an addiction specialist who was born in Hungary but spent most of his life in Canada, explains that “the heart of addiction is always emotional loss.”

When the doctor worked with people suffering from addictions in Vancouver, he says, all his female patients and many of the men had experienced sexual abuse as children. That accounts for one half of pediatrician and psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott’s theory on two things that can go wrong in childhood. The first involves the things shouldn’t happen, like abuse and trauma, Maté says.

The other half of the equation, he continues, is even more widespread. “Things that should happen but don’t,” says Maté. “The presence of non-stressed, non-depressed, emotionally attuned, available caregivers.”

When parents aren’t available because they are...

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