Linking institutional abuse with addictions

Linking institutional abuse with addictions

By Maurice Garvey

THE Director of Research in a pressure group seeking justice for survivors of institutional abuse, is using his own personal experience as a stepping stone for academic studies, linking childhood trauma with addiction.

Clondalkin resident David Kinsella, was born in St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home, and never saw his birth mother.

David Kinsella and Dr Mate 24 November 2016

Now working with the United Survivors Group, he is researching the link between survivors who used alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism to deal with “psychological damages” from institutions and adoptions.

“The coping can turn to addiction, as it did with me from 17 to 25 years of age,” said Mr Kinsella, a father-of-six from Bawnogue.

“Going through my recovery over 35 years now, I’ve turned it to positive action – helping others with addiction, trauma and loss. The most hurtful part of life still is coping with the fact that nuns in St Patrick’s told me my mother had died.”

Mr Kinsella, who has a number of post graduate qualifications in addiction and innovation, recently met Canadian-based physician Dr Gabor Maté, who was doing a seminar on trauma and biology of addiction at the Mansion House.

A renowned author, Dr Maté’s work includes ‘In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts’, a best-seller which draws on science to illuminate where and how addictions originate.

Mr Kinsella got an opportunity to speak at the seminar, and received a warm applause from the crowd.

He continued: “Dr Mate’s book describes a lot of how a lot of early childhood trauma, including neglect, orphanages, mother and baby institutions, can turn to addiction as it did with me.

“The book has evidence based research that children and/or expectant mothers in institutions facing adoption of their expectant child, give neurobiological high stress Cortisol Trauma – a major factor towards addiction in later life.

“And here in Ireland, we have an epidemic of people coping with institutional life with prescription drugs, alcohol, and illegal drugs.”

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