Dr. Gabor Maté

Recovery Contest Winner #4: A Codependent Rock Chick’s Journey

In honor of Recovery Month, we asked you to send us your stories about the impact community, nutrition or environment has had on your life since you put down substances and picked up life. Winners are not only receiving copies of our book, The Miracle Morning for Addiction Recovery, but are also being published here on the site.

This week we have Heidi Le, who went all out, creating this spectacular MULTI-MEDIA entry.

Like many of us crazy codependents, I grew up in an alcoholic home. I often call it a “broken home” because that’s what we were: a family of broken people, doing the best we knew how. In broken homes, addiction and depression create uncertainty and fear.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have any information about addiction or the family disease of codependency. So, without any recovery knowledge or relational tools, I learned how to manage my fear with coping mechanisms.
As kids, these coping skills are like super powers! They keep us safe and even make us feel like we’re helping. However, I found out the hard way that, as an adult, these superpowers aren’t so super.
As it turns out, controlling all the things and fixing all the people are not actual life-skills. They were not qualities that my friends, workplace associates, or family members found helpful. Or even respectful.

So, in 2012, I began looking around at the carnage of my life and relationships. I began to look deeper and consider the mantra of Dr. Gabor Maté, “Ask not ‘Why the addiction?’ but ‘Why the pain?’”

I looked past the symptoms of my codependency—the behaviors that were burning every relationship, personal and professional, to the ground—and explored the pain and fear I was carrying within.

I had a Genius-level breakthrough.

I found a recovery community of authentic, vulnerable people. They shared how they were once broken, just like me. They were being made whole, and their stories gave me hope that I could heal too. Here, I felt safe to own the profound lessons I was learning in recovery, and I began to express them in lyrics such as these.

My wonderful community of friends loved me in the midst of humbling self-realizations and faithfully walked with me as I healed and began to thrive.

Today, I continue to thrive in recovery—along with my dad. In recent years, he has chosen life in recovery over death from alcoholism, and I’m so proud of him. Our biggest messes have been redeemed into a message of hope, which we gladly share with others.

(All photos by Jonathan Trull)

Life in recovery is a miracle, and it is available to anyone who wants it. When we are ready, we acknowledge our pain and say ‘yes’ to healing. We find our burdens are lightened as we walk the path of recovery together, one day at a time.

May your recovery be rockin’ today!

Heidi Le is a singer-songwriter, speaker, and author. Through humor, vulnerability, and authenticity she creates a safe space to experience “me too” moments alongside her on the road to recovery. Find her on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Itunes and Spotify:

We Want You! (To Write For Us.)

September is National Recovery Month and we want to celebrate by featuring and rewarding you. After all, if you didn’t exist, we would just be writing this for ourselves.

How do we want to feature and reward you, you ask?

We want to welcome you into the Genius Recovery family. This could mean featuring you as an expert we interview. It could mean bringing you in as a paid contributor. We’re not entirely sure yet. What we are sure of is that we want to start by asking you to share your recovery story with us.

Here’s how it works…

Many of us are used to sharing our “experience, strength and hope.”

Well, to celebrate Recovery Month, we’d love to hear less about your addiction and more about your recovery. In fact, we’d specifically like to know—in stories that are 500 words or less or videos that are two minutes or under—about the impact community, nutrition or environment has had on your life since you put down substances and picked up life.

Once you’ve written your essay or created your video, please message us on Facebook and add the video or story as an attachment. Please also include your mailing address.

Why do we want your address? Well, we will read through all the entries and select some to publish both on our site and on our social media. IF your story is selected, we will send you a copy of our book, The Miracle Morning for Addiction Recovery.

YES, we want to both feature you on a site that has contributors like Dr. Gabor Mate and Tommy Rosen AND send you a copy of our #1 bestselling book.

Need help getting started? Think about the friends you’ve made in recovery, the way your diet has changed (trading vodka for smoothies, anyone?), the woo woo activities you’ve embraced or anything else that might have horrified the old you (but thrills the new one).

We are so excited to celebrate your genius in recovery.

Dr. Gabor Maté, Addiction Expert, Interviewed by Joe Polish

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Dr. Gabor Maté: A Candid Conversation About Addiction with Dr. Gabor Maté and Joe Polish

Notable Quotes From This Interview:

“It’s not ‘why the addiction?’, it’s ‘why the pain?’” – Dr. Gabor Maté

“The greatest gift you can give your children is their happiness.” – Dr. Gabor Maté

“The medical profession is trauma-phobic.” – David Smith

“A lot of people have died because of the addiction to power.” – Dr. Gabor Maté

“You can not punish pain out of people.” -Joe Polish

Episode Summary

Is addiction the biggest crisis we’ve ever faced? Can we do anything about it? In a candid conversation about addiction, Dr. Gabor Maté and Joe Polish define what addiction is and why it’s actually a solution to pain.

Dr. Gabor Maté is a Hungarian-born Canadian physician with a background in family practice and a special interest in childhood development and trauma, and in their potential lifelong impacts on physical and mental health, including on ADHD, addictions and a wide range of other conditions.

Here’s a glance at what you’ll learn from Dr. Gabor Maté in this episode:

– Why addiction is the biggest crisis we’ve ever faced and what we’re doing about it…
– Dr. Gabor Maté defines what addiction is and why it’s actually a solution to pain
– How the criminal justice system treats addiction and why we must change how people view and treat addicts
– Dr. Gabor Maté and Joe discuss the opioid epidemic and why it’s been happening for decades
– The reason why every case of addiction originates from trauma and deep pain
– Joe shares his struggle with addiction and Dr. Gabor Maté shares his personal story of workaholism
– Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton: A fascinating insight into the difference between overt trauma and developmental trauma
– Joe asks Dr. Gabor Maté, “If someone was raped or molested as a child, how do you interact with your perpetrator if you still know them?”
– Addicts lie, cheat, steal and cause trouble through self-destruction. Gabor and Joe discuss how to interact (and be compassionate) with addicts…
– Dr. Gabor Maté talks about epigenetics and how our environment influences our genes
– The meaning of recovery and how we reconnect with ourselves in recovery
– Dr. Gabor Maté talks about “respectable addictions” and how disdain gets projected onto other people
– How parents unknowingly pass on trauma from one generation to the next…
– Dr. Gabor Maté discusses why A.D.D. is a response to trauma and how A.D.D. is an adaptation
– Traumaphobia: Why we’re surrounded by trauma and yet we don’t talk about it
– What Dr. Gabor Maté would ask Harvey Weinstein and how Gabor suggests we treat addiction
– Why we can’t punish pain out of people and how we can help people fighting silent battles
– What we can do to heal the family system, heal the individual and recover from addiction

Show Notes

  • Addiction is complex but can manifested in any behaviour, not just drugs or gambling.
  • Nearly everybody has had an addiction at some point in their life. The addiction isn’t the problem, developing an addiction is your way of trying to solve the real problem.
  • Emotional pain is almost always the underlying cause of addiction.
  • The question is what happened for you to feel pain, and what can you do to address it.
  • Children take everything in a narcissistic sense. Everything is always about them.
  • We all need to be wanted and your desire will appear in ways that are often addictive.
  • Right now the criminal justice system is treating addicts like criminals, instead of with punishment.
  • The decision to criminalize certain forms of addiction is entirely arbitrary according to the statistics.
  • The theory that addiction is a genetically inheritable disease goes out the window when you look at the aboriginal experience.
  • Every case of addiction results from trauma.
  • The medical world does not understand emotional trauma.
  • ADD is a response to trauma, it’s not genetic and it’s not a brain disease. It’s actually an adaptation to too much stress.
  • Children can feel the stress and suffering of their immediate environment. The strategies the children employ to deal with stress actually become problems later on.
  • A third of teenagers and adults in North America suffer from anxiety.
  • We pass on our trauma to our kids, not genetically but through our actions.
  • The addictive brain can be very clever when it comes to justifying your addictive actions.
  • You have two rational choices when dealing with an addict: you can choose to leave them or you can tell them you will be there to support them in their effort to escape their pain.
  • The irrational choice is to try and change the person.
  • The addiction that manifested in you didn’t begin with you.
  • The problem with words is that they are accurate at first but then the become pejoratives. The word addict has its roots in slavery.
  • What is missing from your life and how did you lose it?
  • We should treat addicts with compassion and get to the core trauma instead of just treating the behavior.
  • Behavior problems become physiological problems in the brain based on the environment.
  • Trauma is a loss of self, recovery is getting it back.
  • When your recovery is complete, you will often have compassion towards the person that traumatized you in the knowledge that they were traumatized themselves in the same way.
  • Anger can be healthy, but it should be channeled in a useful way.
  • There a respectable addictions and there are others that we project of self disdain onto others.
  • The more you stress people, the more you entrench them in their addictions.
  • We live in such a traumatized society, that traumatized people can rise to the top.
  • There are two kinds of trauma, overt and developmental. Not all trauma is from bad things that happened to you, it can also come from good things that didn’t happen to you.


Get more from Dr. Gabor Maté at https://drgabormate.com/