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HAT Forum - "Modern Addiction & the Opioid Crisis"

  • The 519, Rm 304 (check screen in lobby) 519 Church Street Toronto, ON, M4Y 2C9 Canada (map)

While smoking and excessive alcohol both far more prolific killers according to the linked article, it is the new crisis of overdosing on drugs, especially opioids that is making headlines in Canada. The last year toll is over 4,000, which, mercifully, which at US rate would be about 7,000 (for a 10 times population)

For us as Humanists, the recent article by Dr. Mate Gabor, The Search For Oblivion, invites us to look through the lens of “science and empathy” the various ways addiction manifests in our society today: gaming and smart phone disorders, overeating, sexual compulsion, pathological gambling and shopping, and of course smoking and alcohol abuse the two biggies. If addiction is so broad -- and has always been with us – we need to come up with insights that are equally feasible: Within Human Abilities.

Questions to discuss:

  1. Gabor suggests, we ask: Where does the pain come from? Is this the right way to understand addiction?

  2. If suffering is part of life then pain seems unavoidable. Can we alleviate pain before we’re in the hole?

  3. Can we escape Chronic “despair” and “helplessness” that afflicts addicts? How?

  4. Bruce Alexander’s work referred here mentions “Poverty of Spirit” and alienation as causes. How valid?

  5. Gabor says despair promoting circumstances are on the rise, e.g. “2672 Facebook friends and no one for dinner on a Saturday.” Is excessive Facebook use a reaction to a flagging self-worth or to escape loneliness? 

  6. Addiction Chair at U of T wrote in Globe & Mail that in B.C. “vast majority of deaths…have been in private residences, rather than on the street,”. How does this fact change our perceptions of this issue?

  7. What bolsters the will to live Nietzsche has asked. His answer: Knowing the WHY of life. Do humanists come close?