There is a Zen story about a person sitting on a horse, galloping very quickly. At a crossroads, a friend of his shouts, “Where are you going?” The man says, “I don’t know, ask the horse!” This is our situation. The horse is “harm reduction” in various forms including decriminalization of certain drugs, naloxone kits and other interesting strategies designed to end the suffering. The City of Vernon recently stood up against the idea of using drugs to treat the drug problem. Now, that makes sense. B.C.'s minister of mental health and addictions disagrees strongly with City of Vernon letter Decriminalization rebuke We at The Emily Dahl Foundation have also addressed this concern and The Emily Dahl Foundation agrees with The City of Vernon views that were published in the above article. Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming wrote a letter to Minister Sheila Malcolmson in November on behalf of council, opposing the proposed decriminalization of simple possession. The letter stated decriminalization "may result in unanticipated outcomes" and suggested it could lead to more open drug use in parks and public spaces. "Decriminalization alone will not resolve the current crisis," the letter stated. Sherman Dahl of The Emily Dahl Foundation stated: “The following quote below sums it all up and should not be ignored by The B.C. Minister of Health leader Sheila Malcomson, of all people. Further, Kelly Fehr of Turning Points is also entering dangerous territory recommending additional drug use for drug addicts. Common sense must lead to the conclusion that such a strategy is doomed to fail and cost more lives and will only add to the suffering. And most certainly, the last thing that should be considered is adding more drugs to the drug problem. The Emily Dahl Foundation stated: “Those who use intoxicants, drugs, or narcotics to escape from the common normal human condition will find that they have put obstacles in their own path when the time comes later to abandon these artificial methods for the natural ones which alone can give a permanent result. As such, drugs to treat drugs is not logical. Let’s get to the root of the problem – negative emotions. Let’s work on that and the thoughts of the world will begin to change to joy. It is useful to look at the work of Gabor Maté and others to see that “getting to the root of the problem” is the real solution.” THE WORK OF GABOR MATE Dr. Maté says, “We need to change the conversation to provide an effective response to the crisis. Dissuading people from taking drugs and treating addictive behavior isn’t the answer. Understanding and addressing the emotional pain and adverse conditions at the root of addiction would be significantly more effective.” “Simply talking about trying to stop or preventing addiction without looking at those factors, or treating people without looking at their pain, is ineffective,” Maté says. Sherman Dahl of The Emily Dahl Foundation stated: “The work done by Gabor Maté is very good. The Emily Dahl Foundation is in the process of trying to book Gabor Mate to come to Vernon, BC. The Emily Dahl Foundation recently hosted Paul Young the author of “The Shack” to a sold-out crowd in Vernon BC. Paul Young, Gabor Maté and The Emily Dahl Foundation have a common goal and are focused on getting to “the root of the problem” – this is what will save people – and nothing else.” About Dr. Maté A renowned speaker, and bestselling author, Dr. Gabor Maté is highly sought after for his expertise on a range of topics including addiction, stress, and childhood development. Rather than offering quick-fix solutions to these complex issues, Dr. Maté weaves together scientific research, case histories, and his own insights and experience to present a broad perspective that enlightens and empowers people to promote their own healing and that of those around them. After 20 years of family practice and palliative care experience, Dr. Maté worked for over a decade in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side with patients challenged by drug addiction and mental illness. The bestselling author of four books published in over twenty-five languages, Gabor is an internationally renowned speaker highly sought after for his expertise on addiction, trauma, childhood development, and the relationship of stress and illness. His book on addiction received the Hubert Evans Prize for literary non-fiction. For his ground-breaking medical work and writing he has been awarded the Order of Canada, his country’s highest civilian distinction, and the Civic Merit Award from his hometown, Vancouver. His books include In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction; When the Body Says No; The Cost of Hidden Stress; Scattered Minds: The Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder; and (with Dr. Gordon Neufeld) Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers. He is currently writing his next book, The Myth of Normal: Illness and Health in an Insane Culture, out in late 2021. Gabor is also co-developer of a therapeutic approach, Compassionate Inquiry, now studied by hundreds of therapists, physicians, counselors, and others internationally. More on his books and programs elsewhere at this website. The current opioid crisis is the deadliest in U.S. history, with President Trump officially declaring it a national emergency just a few weeks ago. In response to the President, physician and author, Dr. Gabor Maté, discusses this lethal trend and advocates for the reform of current substance abuse treatment methods. A New Perspective on an Old Problem Specialists needs to understand and address the emotional pain of an addict for an effective treatment. The harsh reality is at least 140 people die from overdoses every day in the U.S. – two thirds of which are from opioids. But according to Dr. Maté, this isn’t new information. It’s been going on for a long time, with deaths only increasing each year. Dr. Maté says, “We need to change the conversation to provide an effective response to the crisis. Dissuading people from taking drugs and treating addictive behavior isn’t the answer. Understanding and addressing the emotional pain and adverse conditions at the root of addiction would be significantly more effective.” He also feels society’s increased awareness regarding the opioid epidemic and its rising death toll could be due to a change in the demographics – substance abuse disorders are now affecting the suburban, white, middle-class population. It’s this change both Maté and the media suggest has prompted our increased scrutiny. Dr. Maté proposes, people in the “mainstream” are seeing chemical dependency destroy the lives of their loved ones and growing tired of ineffectual resources that aren’t addressing the root of the problem. A Closer Look at Cause and Effect In Maté’s experience, substance abuse stems from a desire to escape adverse conditions, and opioids are the most powerful pain relievers we have for both physical and emotional pain. He believes the primary question in any addiction is not “why,” but “what” is the source of pain we’re trying to escape? He suggests two main causes of substance abuse: Childhood trauma Severe social stress – insecurity, anxiety, and uncertainty Maté feels the exclusion of trauma and stress in any discussion about chemical dependency is a problem. Substance abuse is spoken about as a matter of choice, hence the initial suggestion that you can deter/dissuade those choices: “If they don’t start, it will never be a problem.” He says, “If the strategy of telling people how bad drugs are was effective, why do we have the current crisis, which has only multiplied five-fold in the last five years?” He doesn’t think anyone chooses to become addicted or necessarily has a genetic predisposition. Instead, Dr. Maté believes substance abuse results from a combination of factors, such as: Life experience Trauma history Family history Modern generational trauma Social factors “Simply talking about trying to stop or preventing addiction without looking at those factors, or treating people without looking at their pain, is ineffective,” Maté says. Below is work being done by The Emily Dahl Foundation of Vernon, BC to bring awareness to the real solutions: mindfulness and compassion – and the hard work that needs to happen. Vernon’s Emily Dahl Foundation to donate more than $10,000 this year – Vernon News – Castanet.net Group that promotes happiness and compassion chooses scholarship recipient | Vernon Matters Vernon girl’s suicide prompts happiness lecture – Vernon Morning Star Acclaimed author to talk mental health at Vernon event – Vernon Morning Star Compassion conference comes to Vernon – Vernon Morning Star Mental health advocate joins Dahl Foundation’s happiness chat in Vernon – Vernon Morning Star Over 1,500 lives lost to toxic illicit drugs in first nine months of 2021 | Vernon Matters Our goal at The Emily Dahl Foundation for 2022 is to continue to explore the essence of love and compassion, which is understanding, the ability to recognize the physical, material, and psychological suffering of others, to put ourselves "inside the skin" of the other. As we enter 2022 lets "go inside" their body, feelings, and mental formations, and witness for ourselves their suffering. Casual observation as an outsider is not enough to see their suffering. We must become one with the object of our observation. When we are in contact with another's suffering, a feeling of compassion is born in us. Compassion means, literally, "to suffer with." When we observe deeply in this way, the benefit of our meditation will naturally transform into some kind of action. We will not just say, "I love her very much," but instead, "I will do something so that she will suffer less." The mind of compassion is truly present when it is effective in removing another person's suffering. We must find ways to nourish and express our compassion. When we come into contact with the other person, our thoughts and actions should express the mind of compassion, even if that person says and does things that are not easy to accept. We practice in this way until we see clearly that our love is not contingent upon the other person being lovable. Then we can know that our mind of compassion is firm and authentic. We ourselves will be more at ease, and the person who has been the object of our meditation will also benefit eventually. His suffering will slowly diminish, and his life will gradually be brighter and more joyful as a result of our compassion. It is time for a change. It is time for us all to fully "wake up". In this more awakened state, we will bring joy to the world and the headlines will not be dominated by negative news! Let's end this year with a call to action. We leave you with this quote by the late Desmond Tutu where he is telling us that as a society full of suffering, we need to get to the root of the problem. We need to better manage negative emotions and develop deep compassion in all that we do.
“There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they're falling in.” - Desmond Tutu
Let's all remember that happiness is not to be hoarded but to be shared. This is not only a responsibility but also a joy.