Dr Gabor Maté states: “Addiction is a complex psychophysiological process, but it has a few key components.

I’d say that an addiction manifests in any behavior that a person finds temporary pleasure or relief in and therefore craves, suffers negative consequences from, and has trouble giving up.

So there’s craving, relief and pleasure in the short term, and negative outcomes in the long term, along with an inability to give it up.

Addiction could be to anything—to religion, to sex, to gambling, to shopping, to eating, to the internet, to relationships, to work, even to extreme sports.

The issue with the addiction is not the external activity, but the internal relationship to it. Thus one person’s passion is another’s addiction.”


Cravings cause suffering. Overthinking leads to  obsession and compulsivity. Low self-esteem constantly triggers conflict, disconnection and unhappiness.

When we are hurt, in pain  we believe  we  are not enough, not worthy, not loveable.

Addiction professionals practitioners have long known of the connection between psychological and physiological  states and immune response, notably between addiction and depression to a wide range of diseases.

Now a direct connection between brain activity and immune function has been demonstrated.

Neurosciences pinpoint one of the mechanisms underlying the link, revealing it to lie in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. This region has long been associated with emotions, thus establishing a direct link between brain activity and immune function.

Recovery consists of recognizing and understanding one’s genetic vulnerability. Once this vulnerability is identified it becomes necessary to abstain (or at least moderate) from addictive substances and activities.

Treatment provides education that helps people to understand and accept their genetic predisposition. There is a heightened emphasis on the importance of abstinence.

Gabor Maté at the Breath of Life Conference 2017 from on Vimeo.


In contrast to the traditional theories, a model called the Biopsychosocial (BPS) model has been developed to explain the complex interaction between the biological, psychological, and social aspects of addiction. It is the model most widely endorsed by treatment researchers because it can most adequately explain the intricate nature of addiction.

The term “Biopsychosocial” comes from combining the individual factors that contribute to the model: biological, psychological (thoughts, feelings, behaviors), and social. Many clinicians and treatment providers (particularly those in traditional addiction treatment) use the same term to include a fourth factor, spirituality.

First articulated by George Engel in 1977,  the BPS model was originally designed as an alternative to the prevailing biomedical model, which tends to reduce illness to a single source, then treat the illness with little regard for other contributing factors such as a patient’s psychological experiences or social behaviours.

A decade later, evidence based research studies  of BPS model for addictive behaviors in recognition that drinking behavior and alcohol problems are multidimensional.

BPS is the recommended comprehensive assessment that could capture the biological, psychological and social aspects of the individual’s life that are affected by drinking. This information, Donovan hypothesized, would improve diagnosis and treatment.

Since then, others have expanded the concept of the BPS model to reflect the multiple pathways to addiction such as genetic predisposition, learned behaviour, the need for self-medication, and the impact of one’s family.

Dr Gabor Maté theory of  trauma and addiction is well researched and stands up to the scrutiny and scepticism  of practitioners whose  education and training into the complexity of addiction is limited.