Embraced by the Needle

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“Embraced by the Needle” (published in the Globe and Mail) by Gabor Maté, states the effects on a person that do not have a loving and nurturing home in their younger years may turn to drugs later on. Maté is a staff physician at Portland Hotel; which is Downtown Eastside Vancouver where there is a population of drug addicts of 3000 to 5000. Most of Maté’s clients are mentally ill and are addicted to drugs like cocaine, alcohol, heroin, and tranquilizers. Maté states “Chemical and emotional vulnerability are the products of life experience, according to current brain research and development psychology” (305). An experiment with infant rats and monkeys are compared to human beings by testing their brain for anxiety, neuro-chemical, dopamine, and endorphins; they all ended up to be quite similar. Endorphins are opiate receptors in our brain that control things like pain and mood. The less endorphin interactions in the younger years such as separation from their mother (infant monkey), less grooming from their mother (infant rat), or a stressful, angry or an unhealthy environment for a child would increase the need for external sources. In their older years may result in to turning to drugs. There is no drug that is addictive, only 8% to 15% of people who try alcohol or marijuana get addicted. “Childhood memories of serial abandonment or severe physical and psychological abuse are common,” says Maté (306). The majority of the women and some men addicts Downtown East Vancouver are suffering from sexual assault from their childhood years. Maté gave a couple of examples from two of his clients from Portland. First, a 36 year-old cocaine user went from foster home to foster home; he was punished by getting dish soap poured down his throat and tied to a chair in a dark room at the age of 5. Next, a 32 year-old poet who suffers from mental

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illness; She feels alone and doesn’t know what it is like to be loved unconditionally and accepted for who she is....
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