Adrian Sanabria's Reviews > In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Maté
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Mar 07, 2012

it was amazing
Read from March 07 to April 13, 2012

Short synopsis: Though this book includes graphic stories that can be hard to read, I'd recommend anyone and everyone from ages 15 and up read this book. Many of the things you will learn in this book should be common knowledge.

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about addiction, to the point that I think a book similar to this (perhaps restructured and reduced a bit) should be mandatory reading in high school. I think awareness at that level and age could even have a positive effect on early behavior that could lead to lifelong addiction. The role of ADD/ADHD in many addictions was especially interesting to me.

At first, I wasn't sure about the structure of this book. Was it a mess, or organized this way for some particular purpose? I was hovering around 3 stars until I passed the halfway mark. By the time I finished it, I was sure it deserved a full five stars. Be warned, Maté includes many stories dictated to him by some of his patients (with their blessing) that may be hard to read/listen to. Later on, I found these were necessary, as he constantly references them as he goes through the workings of the brain and different components and aspects of addiction.

I read this book because I wanted to know more about the nature of addiction. I've always used the word "addiction" in the casual sense because I didn't know enough about it to be sure of its proper meaning. I do now. Read this book if you:

Want to know more about addiction - any kind. Alcoholism, hard drugs, cigarettes, behavioral, gambling, whatever. You learn about all kinds, why they exist, why they persist and approaches to getting rid of them.

Know someone with an addiction, and want to understand it.

Think you might have an addiction yourself, but aren't sure.

Now, this isn't a self-help book, or a tool to diagnose. The purpose of this book is to help the reader understand the nature of addiction, where it comes from and why. Maté does an excellent job of mentioning other books, studies and resources where you can dive deeper if you choose. By the end of this book though, you will have an excellent base for understanding and dealing with addiction.
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