Embraced by the Needle Summary

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The essay entitled, “Embraced by the Needle,” by Gabor Mate speaks to, not only the originating factors of addiction but also how one’s childhood and one’s addiction may be correlated. Mate begins his essay with the statement, “addictions always originate in unhappiness” (paragraph 1).

This statement appeals directly to his idea of causes of addiction, and also happens to be the argument Mate is attempting to make throughout his entire essay. Because of Mate’s medical background, he spends the majority of his time furthering those who suffer from drug addictions and mental illness. Mate mentions that when treating these individuals, his first question is always, “why the pain?” rather than, “why the addiction?” (paragraph 1). This quote directly demonstrates his idea that the cause of addiction is pain. In this essay, he uses his client’s personal dealings with addiction to enhance the audience’s awareness of the subject. This makes for an extremely effective way of using storytelling to make the main ideas known. While speaking to the causes of addiction, Mate declines the typical, assumed reasons as to why someone might become addicted. The main two assumptions people have regarding addiction is that it was chosen by the individual who suffers from it, and that addiction is genetic. Again, Mate argues that this ‘pain’, from addiction, is associated with childhood experiences. One example of pain going back to one’s childhood is a feeling of rejection from one’s caregiver. Mate uses a client’s personal experience to explain this rejection with the quote, “his facial expression was that of a terrorized urchin who had just broken some family law and feared draconian retribution” (paragraph 10). Mate uses these words after speaking with a client who was rejected by his foster family because of the hyperactivity he experienced as a child. From Mate’s theory/argument, It can be inferred that the client’s past pain likely caused his addiction to cocaine. Feeling unwanted and rejected is painful. Another concept that Mate expresses in his essay is how these addictive drugs can be compared to the compassion many of his clients did and/or do not receive. In fact, he uses the example of a client, who is addicted to heroin. He quotes her saying, “the first time I did heroin, it felt like a warm, soft hug” (paragraph 3). By quoting her, Mate puts further emphasis on his argument that addictions come from painful past experiences. The title “Embraced by the Needle,” is significant in itself to this concept. The title explains that when people feel unloved or outcasted, they turn to their addictions to provide them with that “warm hug” feeling. Therefore, when someone does receive compassion, they can become unhappy, and seek a substitution for compassion.

Mate has a strong belief that addictions arise from matters that are much bigger than the drugs themselves. Because of Mate’s use of storytelling, we can infer that people who struggle with addictions, long for a sense of belonging, and that “warm hug” feeling. It is also accurate to say it is plausible that addictions can be a result of pain. Work CitedMate, Gabor. “Embraced by the Needle” Essay Writing for Canadian Students, 9th edition, Editors. Roger Davis & Laura K. Davis, Pearson, 2020


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Embraced by the Needle Summary. (2020, Sep 17). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/embraced-by-the-needle/

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