Opinion

Battling addiction

Re: Addiction can be beaten, Letters, Oct. 5.

What an inspiration the premise of this letter is—even if the conclusion (“anyone can do it”) might be debatable!

Indeed one can overcome addiction with great determination. I should know. Decades ago, my doctor gave me a choice: give up smoking or give up singing. Suffering from pharyngitis, I could hardly swallow, never mind try to sing. It was all because of smoking.

Right there at his office I decided to quit cold turkey and succeeded with a thought that I prefer being heard singing rather than coughing.

Was it easy to quit? Not at all! It was tough but no one had to convince me of the risks with continued addiction.

Sadly, this is not the case with other forms of addiction. I have personally seen a friend die prematurely because of alcoholism. And the advertisement about “drugs frying the brain” is backed up by scientific studies about physical and psychological dependencies that render an addict with a very limited mental faculty to consciously battle affliction. In other words, short periods of mental clarity are insufficient to suppress the urge to relapse.

Kurt Cobain, the celebrated icon of the band Nirvana, is known to have resorted to drugs to battle his physical pains of depression, bronchitis and an undiagnosed stomach condition—first with marijuana in 1978 at the age of 11, and then with heroin and cocaine when he was 19. He became fully addicted at age 23 and committed suicide three years later after several unsuccessful attempts at rehabilitation and detoxification in 1994.

Just a glimpse at the lives of many celebrities today will confirm that Kurt Cobain is no anomaly. Struggles with daily life, loneliness, business failures, poor social environment, broken marriages and family relationships, peer pressure and experimentation, seem to be some of the factors that lead to addiction. If the rich and famous fall prey to addiction, what chances does the ordinary person have?

The other question is: “Is rehabilitation possible?” Baldwin Research Institute, a New York corporation that has extensively researched and written about addiction and rehabilitation states: “No amount of medical jargon can alter the incontrovertible fact that addiction begins and ends with a choice.” But what if the addict is no longer capable of making that conscious choice?

Unfortunately, in North America, there has been a sharp debate about this subject. With findings that the “burgeoning treatment industry has failed to succeed in their efforts” according to the same research, drug addiction and alcoholism (as well as other compulsive and obsessive conditions) have been classified as forms of “mental illness” (implying little chance of recovery). But more importantly, they (addictions) are now legislated to be the responsibility of the mental health community. The end result is millions of dollars spent on historical treatment and rehabilitation procedures admitted to have very limited success. 

So then, what must we as a community do about this social ill? We are powerless to halt the production of over 500 tons a year of ATS (amphetamine-type stimulants) that feed the habit of more than 40 million people worldwide. We can’t stop the planting and harvesting of coca plants in Taliban controlled farms in Afghanistan.

But we can heed the advice of the Vatican envoy to the United Nations, H.E. Msgr. Celestino Migliore, who stated in his 2003 address to the United Nations: “A great number of research clearly demonstrate a link between strong family bonds and the prevention of drug use by children; that it is in the family where a child learns various habits; that nurturing good parenting practices would contribute to healthy social behavior in childhood; that a simple act of regularly sharing a meal with a child proves effective in reducing the likelihood of experimentation with drug.”

As compassionate as we are at attempts at rehabilitation, no matter how often futile they may have been known to be, our greatest responsibility to stem the spread of this social ill begins with what we do at home today and how we nurture love, peace, understanding, and harmony.

Ernie Mendoza

Richmond 

Look beyond

the smoke

Editor:

Non-smokers, it’s time to look beyond the smokers and put your energy in trying to help drug addicts get off drugs and work with young youths keeping them off the streets robbing and hurting people.

You non-smokers want to sit outside on the patios for fresh air. It’s funny we do not see you out there when it’s cold, raining, snowing or blowing. Oh how silly of me, you just want the patio when it’s nice and warm like maybe July and August, weather permitting.

As for complaining about one smoking on one’s own patio, aren’t barbeques allowed to get that smell of food in your home? Let’s not talk about the smoke.

One more for you to answer.  Who pays when a drug addict overdoses? To keep him alive so he can overdose again. They must have medical right. I know I pay for mine. 

Non-smokers, don’t waste your energy on smokers. Get your energy on more problem areas and there’s a lot out there.  Work on shutting down grow-ops and meth labs—that’s a dangerous hobby to be living next door to.

Joyce Cotterell

Richmond

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