Dr Maté has written a non-judgemental and wonderfully compassionate book focusing on the lives of drug addicted human beings who have been his patients. We gain insight into their traumatic early years, often bound up in shame and abuse.
Although these are hard-core and desperate cases, they shed light on the causes of addiction and all of our relationships with behaviours and substances. Sadly, this early suffering so often results in addictions to drugs or behaviours in order to achieve that temporary dopamine-driven hit of excitement in an often-failed attempt to regulate themselves. The resulting addictions all cause harm and as Dr Maté reminds us, any habit that does not cause harm is, by definition, not an addiction. The book is a plea for not stigmatising and ostrasising addicts, but to approach interventions with more empathy and compassion. The addicts in the book have much to teach society and can shed light on the shopaholics, workaholics, overeaters, gamblers, sex addicts and compulsive internet users than run right though all of our societies. Dr Maté rightly says that “in the dark mirror of their lives can we trace outlines of our own”.