HSU Conference Focuses on Addiction, Social Change


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Gabor Mate
  • Gabor Mate
“It's not about quick fixes. It's about commitment, persistence and showing up.”

Virginia Belton, PhD candidate and founder of Redwood Palliative Psychology, says that our community is on the cusp of a change. With one of the highest drug-induced death rates in the state (far above the state average, according to the California Center on Rural Policy), Belton says the time has come to educate healers and community members on an approach to trauma and addiction that moves “beyond the biomedical model.”

Belton says she is “catching my breath and pinching myself, I'm so excited,” about this weekend's conference on trauma, addiction and social change, to be held at Humboldt State University. The conferences features Gabor Mate as a keynote speaker. Mate is a Canadian palliative care physician whose ground-breaking work on addiction and trauma has been chronicled in several best-sellers, including In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts and When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection. Mate's work examines the role of early childhood brain development and inherited trauma on an individual's vulnerability to addiction. He advocates for holistic, society-wide change rather than a punitive approach.

Other noted speakers include Christopher Peters, president and CEO of the Seventh Generation Fund, Dr. Charles Garfield, Dr. Michael Yellowbird, Dr. Brent Potter and Dr. Eric Greene. Locals Betty Chinn, Bill Damiano and Mike Goldsby will also give presentations on Humboldt-specific issues.

The conference starts Thursday evening and ends Sunday. All community members are invited to attend, though registration is required. For more information, visit the conference's website.


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