What video games, shoes, alcohol and Twitter have in common

City of Vancouver - Information Bulletin

September 9, 2009 - Why is addiction spreading so fast and how do we turn the tide?

This question is being addressed in a series of six free workshops at the Gathering Place from September 17 through October 22. The seminars will be led by Bruce Alexander and Terry Patten. Alexander, is a Professor Emeritus and author of the Globalization of Addiction: A study of Poverty in Spirit and Patten is an organizer of A Community Aware, a Vancouver community issues forum.

This workshop series is called Addiction: But it's not about drugs. Alexander and Patten argue that addictions route cause is people looking for a way to adapt to loss, loneliness and the absence of community.

"Whether it is another drink, another hit of crack cocaine, another bet at the casino, another night of partying, another binge and purge episode, another pair of shoes, or another evening devoted to video games or tweeting, many people just can't say no because of an inner void that has to be filled, at all costs" says Alexander. "Addiction to just about anything can become a deadly serious problem for individuals and for society. Addiction, it's always in the room."

Why has our society lost the ability to provide a satisfying community life? Why are people without a satisfying life drawn into addictions? Patten and Alexander address these questions and state that "These questions have answers and, because they do, the addiction problem does not have to continue to grow."

For Alexander and Patten, the issue of addiction must be dealt with on the personal level, on the institutional level, and on the broadest social level all at once.

"The solution has escaped us because we try to control addiction as if it were primarily an individual problem," Alexander says. "But it is at least as much an institutional and a community problem. We have the capacity to solve it if we work together." The workshops will discuss not only how people can re-connect to their own values and to society but also how people can create a society that is more fit for people to live in without the need for addiction.

Privacy is maintained for anyone attending the workshops. (The sessions are closed to media.)

WHAT: A workshop series consisting of six sessions focused on exploring addiction locally and globally and exploring solutions to addiction problems on a personal, institutional and societal level.

WHERE: The Gathering Place 
609 Helmcken Street at Seymour in Vancouver, BC

WHEN: 5 pm to 7:30 pm (snacks will be provided)
Thursday evenings from September 17 - October 22
Attendance at all six sessions is recommended.

To register, please call 604-665-2391 or register in person at The Gathering Place.


Bruce Alexander

Bruce Alexander is a retired professor who specialized in addiction research at Simon Fraser University for 30 years. His recent book, The Globalisation of Addiction: A Study in Poverty of the Spirit, Oxford University Press, has just been short-listed for the British Medical Association's 2009 Mental Health book prize.

Terry Patten

Terry Patten is a retired businessman and an organizer for A Community Aware, a Vancouver forum for a discussion of community concerns since 1999. Originally operating in the Commercial Drive area, A Community Aware focuses on social and political discussions. This upcoming six-meeting workshop series is based on a 13-week seminar that Alexander created and taught at SFU for over 20 years.

The Gathering Place

The Gathering Place Community Centre celebrates and serves the diverse community of Vancouver's downtown south. The Centre provides accessible and engaging programs and services for everyone, including the most vulnerable, in the following areas: Food/nutrition, health/hygiene, education, information/mail/messaging, recreation/fitness, art/culture, reading room and volunteer opportunities.

The Gathering Place involves members directly and actively in all aspects of the Centre's operation through a partnership with the Downtown South Gathering Place Community Centre Association (DSGPCCA).

The Gathering Place Community Centre is funded by the City of Vancouver and BC Housing and partners with the Vancouver School Board and various 

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