(Disclaimer: This transcript was made using AI technology. Please excuse any errors.)
Adina Silvestri 0:00
Hello guys it's Adina and we are actually on break from the Atheists in Recovery podcast. But I thought it would be fun to share some of my most popular episodes as well as my favorite episodes from year one. For me listening to some of these old episodes, I always pick up something new and learn something in addition to what I thought I already learned from the guests, and if it's a book review, I love going through book and reviewing the pages upon pages of highlights and sussing out my favorite ideas that I feel are worth sharing. So before you go, don't forget to sign up for the weekly newsletter where we talk about learning to identify patterns of dysfunctional thinking, changing the dysfunctional thinking to something more positive. And I throw in a little homework for good measure and you can find the link to sign up for the newsletter. in the show notes. Okay guys, I hope you enjoy this encore episode.
Welcome to the Atheists in Recovery podcast, where we talk about finding hope in recovery.
And now your host, Dr. Adina Silvestri
Adina Silvestri 1:16
Hello everyone, and welcome to Episode Four of the atheists in recovery podcast. Today is a solo episode. I'm sharing a book that has become one of my favorite addiction books as of late to me it's equal parts storytelling and equal part scientific research. And the book is called in the realm of hungry ghosts by Dr. Gabor Mate'. Today, I want to outline three takeaways from the book, and just in hopes that you'll perhaps want to dive deeper maybe even by the book, or you'll connect with me on social media. I mean, we could have a conversation about it. But I've been using this book in my practice. And it's really helped to give me a different perspective and addiction and the analysis of addiction and human cravings. So let's get started. Number one, in the realm of hungry ghosts, that is the title of the book. And it comes from the Buddhist religion in the way that I know this is I had to Google it. But there are six realms in this wheel of life according to the Buddhist religion. And they are sort of a way of life maybe a personality type from what I gather, but inhabitants The hungry ghosts realm are the ones that we're focusing on today. And they're depicted as creatures with scrawny necks, small miles, and missing limbs, large empty bellies. And in this realm, you try to fill this perpetual emptiness with substances. And the emptiness is perpetual because as you know, the substances are not really what we need. And we don't know what we need as long as we stay in this hungry Ghost Realm, and we haunt our lives without being fully present. Let me say that again. We haunt our lives without being fully present. In the book, Dr. Mate' discusses how powerful the addiction is for patients for his patients. On Hastings Street in downtown east side of Vancouver. He's an MD there and he runs a clinic there, or he did run a clinic there. And he really shows the addiction through their eyes in these narratives that he tells throughout the book. You know, and in the very beginning of the book, he talks about how people jeopardize their lives for the sake of making the moment, the moments livable. You know, and it's interesting when I started reading the book, because, you know, all too often I'll hear family say, why can't they just stop? And I'll be honest, sometimes I think to myself, God, they've lost so much, where's the motivation to get better? You know, what, how do I get through to this person and it's, it really, really takes me to a place and hope It'll take you to a place of, of learning that nothing will sway individuals from the habit, you know, not illness, not the sacrifice of love and relationships, not their therapists telling them like, Hey, you need to stop. Not the loss of all of the earthly goods or even their fear of dying. I mean, the, the addiction, the drive for the addiction is just that powerful.
And I also like how Dr. Mate' talks about the suffering down at his Hastings street clinic is being multi generational and I feel like you know, in the realm of trauma, that's a little bit of a new field of discovery, you know, multi generational, so you know, the generations prior One generation of a family member had trauma than that affects generations to come. And trauma is a word that is used to represent many things. I mean, it could be physical, sexual, emotional abandonment, so many different things. And so that's something that that we also need to keep in mind. You know, what's the pain? You know, when clients come to see me and they have an addiction? You know, it's not well, let's, let's name this, you know, what, is this an addiction? You know, is this just a problem? We don't spend a lot of time there. Instead, we talk about what's the pain, you know, what are you trying? What are you trying to, to fill that void with, you know, what's, what's the void that you're trying to fill? And sometimes, you know, and sometimes you don't, sometimes it takes a little bit, a little bit extra work there. So Okay, number two, the brain science of addiction. I also really liked this section of the book, Dr. montae discuss addiction not as a neurobiological, or a physical or social issue, but really understanding addiction from a multi level exploration. And so to me, I would say that that's a complex dance between human beings and their environment, as you remember, in a previous episode with Dr. Dick, she talks about how you can be genetically vulnerable with addiction, but if your environment never put you in that situation, then those genes will never be essentially turned on. And so, you know, I really liked how Dr. Mate' is saying, you know, Let's not just look at addiction from one framework, let's even look at it as a disease, which means that it would just be under the medical model framework. Let's look at it from a multi level exploration. And then he mentions rat Park. And I'll have to leave a link to this study in the show notes over at atheists in recovery calm. Rat Park is a very famous study and it involves, as you may have already picked up on rats and and the scientists build this elaborate, elaborate living area. I think there's even murals on the walls for them and a tunnel where you know, big enough for one rat to go through at a time. I mean, it's just it is like rat heaven. So let me back up and tell you that this experiment was done by the lead investigator was Bruce Alexander. So you'll be able to find it easily in the show notes. And to give you a little more background on the experiment, Bruce and his team wanted to, to have is normal of a housing as possible for these for these rats. And so that's where rat Park came about. That's how it came about. It was open and spacious, scenic, comfortable co Ed. And so he wanted to compare rat park to normal housing for rats. And so these this normal housing were individual cages and they were mounted on steel racks so that the animals constructed so the animals cannot see each other. So we have these two These two experiments going on. So Bruce Alexander is comparing the impact of environment and stress on these, these rats and the different housing situations. So he constructed this to measure the rats consumption of the morphine and so at the end of the rat tunnel in rat Park, there were there were bottles in one bottle was
morphine in a sugary substance and then I think they lessened the the sugary substance more and more as the experiment went on. And then the other bottle was just a bottle of water. Okay, so without spending too much time on this what they had found was that in rat Park The morphine, the rats in the normal housing, drink an extreme amount of morphine from the bottles compared to the rats in rat Park. And so that those findings, Brian Alexander would say that those findings are comparable with the coping on the human opiate addiction scale, that solitary confinement causes incredible psychic distress in humans. And it's just as likely to be stressful to other social species. And so I found that that was really interesting. And then, of course, the longitudinal studies with the Vietnam Veterans where many veterans were addicted to heroin over in Vietnam, and you know, because of the significance stress. That's how they dealt with those external stressors. You know, they used heroin, but then when they came back most of the vats did not continue that heroin addiction, which is an important thing to highlight. So, drugs do not make anyone an addict. Any more than food makes a person into compulsive eater I stole that from Dr. Monte. But I like it. So there has to be a pre existing vulnerability there just as as we said with the the earlier podcast, it's Dr. Dick right. So environment environment is key. So you need the substance to be addictive. Obviously, you need to also be have a pre existing vulnerability and the evidence and the environment has to be just right with stress. There has to be External stressors that you feel like you can't control. So those those three things are sort of the recipe that you would need. And so let's go on to number three. Number three is the war on drugs. And I feel like eventually I'll just I'll have one full podcast on this because it's so interesting to me and not in not in a positive way. But even as the name depicts, you know, the war on drugs. It's such a doom and gloom. metaphor and, you know, it's, um, it's not even really appropriate to describe it as a as a war. To describe that as a complex social problem, because really, we need to be talking about compassion for these people that are addicted to drugs and alcohol and Love and insight. And we need to be calling for better scientific understanding and, you know, more valid research. And so, Dr. montay describes the King County Bar Association statement from 2001. And I'm not going to go through the statement in its entirety. But a couple of things I wanted to point out is the war on drugs failed to reduce problematic drug use, particularly among children. And increased crime related to pro habited drugs, increased economic crimes, violent crimes, and of course, a profitable commercial market made possible by the prohibition of drugs. And then the clogging of the courts and you know, the compromises in the administration of justice as well as loss of respect for the law. And that's just to name a few. Okay, and just to recap You know, the highlights for me in this book is, you know, the realm of hungry ghosts. And talking about what that realm means, and how, you know, in this realm, you try to fill this emptiness with substances. And as we know, that emptiness cannot be filled
until you figure out the root cause of such emptiness. And so we continue to haunt our lives without being fully present to I relate to the brain science of addiction, and Dr. Monti does a really good job of discussing it in layman's terms. And then of course, also, we'll put some links to rat Park and some of the longitudinal studies with the Vietnam vets. So drugs don't make anyone into an addict. Any more than food made. person into a compulsive eater. And then three the war on drugs was highly unsuccessful and and we can do a better job at describing the encounters that we have with addiction and, and make it more into a complex social problem that that really calls on everyone to to really be present and find solutions to this complex and devastating disorder Okay guys, I hope you liked by review of in the realm of hungry ghosts. If you do, I'd love to hear from you. And you can you can always
Unknown Speaker 16:49
Adina Silvestri 16:51
info at Atheistsinrecovery.com and I hope you have a great day and I'm also giving This book away and so you can find more on the giveaway for the podcast launch over at atheist and recovery.com. Alright guys, thank you. I
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Welcome to today’s show!
In today’s solo episode, I’m sharing a book that has stood out for me that is equal parts story telling and equal parts scientific research. By Dr. Gabor Mate’. Below I outline 3 takeaways from the book.
WHAT WE’LL LEARN
For more info, head over to atheistsinrecovery.com and subscribe to our email list. And thank you for listening!