Health checkup: Loneliness and connection

Alan Muskat; photo by Mike Belleme

Editor’s note: The following Q&A is one of several featured in this week’s Wellness, Part 1 issue. Additional Q&As will appear in next week’s Wellness, Part 2 issue. 

Alan Muskat, founder of No Taste Like Home, wears many hats: forager, writer, philosopher and outdoor guide, to name a few. He is also a facilitator with SeekHealing, a local nonprofit that works with individuals in recovery. Muskat speaks with Xpress about the role loneliness plays in addiction, the power of listening and ways to find connections with others.

What’s missing from Asheville’s conversation about the opioid epidemic?

As Gabor Maté [renowned physician and author] teaches, addiction is self-medication for the pain of living in an unsupportive culture. Addiction is endemic to a society that engenders loneliness. For that, opioids are just one option among many. More widespread and insidious than any substance use is screen addiction. Regardless of the coping strategy, you can’t blame the canary for the mine.

How can listening play a role in wellness?

The word “health” means wholeness, and a human is never whole alone. We are probably the most social animal on Earth.

Today, most of us die from what are known as “diseases of civilization.” Civilization is a process of separating people — from each other and themselves.

Listening is the most powerful medicine.

Where in Asheville city limits do you most like to seek peace?

I seek peace in my body and in authentic connection with others.



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