Downtown Eastside issues explored in book



rafe arnott/metro toronto


Vancouver author and physician Gabor Maté explores addiction issues plaguing the Downtown Eastside in his latest book In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts.


The average Vancouverite has more in common with the terminally addicted residents of the Downtown Eastside than they would like to believe, according to the staff physician at the Portland Hotel Society.

Dr. Gabor Maté, who works at the residence and resource centre for people of the Downtown Eastside, draws on his own experiences working with drug addicts in his new book, In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts.

"We all have behaviours that we carry on that have negative impacts on us but we don’t give them up because of the immediate pleasure they give us," said Maté, adding that cocaine and heroin are more benign than tobacco. "The people I work with are on the extreme end of this continuum that all of society’s on."

One solution he offers is to decriminalize some of the substances that people are most commonly addicted to, leading the way to treatment.

"How can you help these people when you make them into criminals?" he posed.

Maté hosts a book signing tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. at Interurban at 1 East Hastings St.