Breaking Free of Old Habits, Addiction, and Past Traumas with Dr. Gabor Maté


It’s part of the human condition to run away from pain. Most of us have habits that we acquired as a way to cope with painful childhood experiences or traumas, which unfortunately don’t serve us as adults. These habits can manifest as addiction in a wide variety of forms, from substance abuse to overworking. If you feel a sense of deep guilt, without recognizing the source of it, you’re not alone. As children we pick up the energy around us, start to think things are our fault, and we don’t know how to drop that feeling as we grow up. This has a very heavy impact on our emotional, mental, and physical health.

On today’s Broken Brain Podcast, our host Dhru talks to Dr. Gabor Maté, a retired physician who, after 20 years of family practice and palliative care experience, worked for over a decade in Vancouver’s Downtown EastSide with patients challenged by drug addiction and mental illness. Gabor is the bestselling author of four books published in twenty-five languages, and is an internationally renowned speaker highly sought after for his expertise on addiction, trauma, childhood development, and the relationship of stress and illness.

His books include: In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction; When the Body Says No; Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection; Scattered: How ADD Originates and What You Can Do About It; and (with Gordon Neufeld) Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers.

In this episode, Dhru and Dr. Maté talk about detangling our traumatic life experiences to live more aware lives. Dr. Maté and Dhru each open up about their own experiences with addictive tendencies and how those patterns were based out of a deep compensation and survival mechanisms that all of us can relate to. They also talk about what is happening in the addict's brain and how to unravel awareness to promote healing. In his famously insightful way, Dr. Maté discusses the true meaning of recovery and how we can all work through trauma to find our truest selves.

In this episode, we dive into:
- The pain-body concept (4:06)
- Dr. Maté’s definition of addiction (9:57)
- How a painful experience or trauma is at the center of all addictions (15:03)
- Dr. Maté’s childhood trauma and how it led to his own addictive behaviors (22:01)
- Understanding the difference between responsibility and blame, and why “it’s not all our parents’ fault” (30:29)
- What is happening physiologically in the brains of addicted people (39:36)
- The key to healing painful experiences (46:37)
- What does it mean to recover (47:56)
- How to approach the healing of behavior addictions fostered by our culture (51:11)
- Dr. Maté’s non-negotiable self-care practice (1:00:03)

For more on Dr. Gabor Mate, visit his website

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