Addiction Books: In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts

by Joshua Hoe


Lately, in addition to my own book, I have been highlighting other addiction books I endorse.

Today I have chosen “In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts” by Gabor Mate


This is one of my favorite addiction books of all-time. My only complaint is that the first few chapters could have been edited down. The bulk of the helpful information comes later in the text (IMHO).

If you are searching for answers to the “Why” questions, this is one of the best books that I have read.

Five Things I Love About This Book:

1. Gabor Mate is gentle with his frustrations

I absolutely love that an ongoing theme of this book is that the frustrations he feels when working with addicts are as much about his failings as about the addicts.

If you don’t know much about Gabor Mate, he is an addiction specialist who has worked with Heroin addicts in Canada for decades.

2. He gets the story right

The biggest criticism I have seen of this book is that it gives early life traumas too much weight (as foundational to addiction).

IMHO I wish more books spent more time emphasizing that for many addicts this is foundational. I know far more people for whom early-life trauma was formative than people for whom it is not.

3. He refuses to see himself as exceptional.

Gabor Mate spends most of the book trying to empathize with drug addicts through the lens of his own shopping and food addictions.

Way too often, people trying to “help” addicts see themselves as exceptional and place themselves in a paternalistic position over addicts.

I believe Gabor Mate sees himself as a partner to the addicts he supports.

4. He Walks The Walk

This dude works every day in the trenches with heroin addicts trying to recover.

Gabor Mate is not an ivory tower academic. He walks the walk with all of us.

5. Practical Information presented well

Of all the hundreds of books I have read about addiction, I retained more from this book than most of the others combined.

His humility and gentle approach to addiction is a game changer but I also found his lessons practical and easy to digest.

And, of course, if you are looking for more reading material, you can give my eBook a read too:


What did you think of “In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts?” Let me know, leave a comment!


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