How to find compassion when facing addiction
When our children are in addiction’s grasp, is compassion the antidote? Dr. Gabor Maté, Hungarian-born Canadian physician and author of the highly respected book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, asserts that addiction is rooted in the pain of individual trauma and family history. He emphasizes that addiction must be met with compassion. He quotes the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying: “Whatever you do, don’t try and escape from your pain, but be with it. Because the attempt to escape from pain is what creates more pain, and that’s the reality with addiction.”
My son suffered a fourteen-year heroin addiction. He was shooting heroin into his neck and had spent time in jails and hospitals. When he entered his last treatment center, he was beaten down and fragile, both psychologically and physically. It was then, in that moment of desperation, that he met Dr. Patrick MacAfee, who became his beloved addiction therapist.
Dr. MacAfee later told me: “For all of Jeff’s manipulation, the one thing he desperately wanted and needed was honest contact, respect, and truth—the very things he chased away. Shining a flashlight on Jeff and his addiction never helped. I had to work with him with candlelight.”
Today’s Stay Close Promise: Gabor Maté asserts that addiction is rooted in pain and that empathy is needed to counter the suffering. In the early years of my son’s addiction, I found it very difficult to be compassionate with him. In time, I learned that my son was alive under the drugs and that he hated himself for all the pain he was causing our family, but he was in the choke hold of his illness.
Today, let us stay close and join in prayer that our loved ones choose sobriety. In the meantime, we will be there with compassion.