It is more than that

By Ben Goerner

It does not surprise me that the overdose crisis is spiking during this pandemic, or that it even occurred in the first place.

If we look at the root causes of addiction, we can see the answers quite clearly and they are complex, but obvious to those who have worked alongside people who struggle with addiction and are aware of the latest evidence and facts.  

It is the fact that drugs rewire the brain. They hijack rational decision making and turn people, places, and things in to unmanageable urges to use.

And it’s more than that.  

It is the fact that street drugs are being poisoned and made more powerful for the sake of profit by criminals.

And it’s more than that.  

It is the fact that pharmaceutical companies lied to the public, misleading doctors in to thinking opioids were non addictive.

And it is more than that.  

It is the fact that opiates were being over prescribed, and then suddenly taken away when it was discovered that they were addictive, leaving people in debilitating, overwhelming withdrawal.

And it is more than that.  

It is the fact that trauma is directly linked to addiction; that consistently 70-80% of youth attending counselling for substance use reported trauma from various forms of abuse.

And it’s more than that.  

It is the fact that most people who suffer from addiction also suffer with other developmental, and mental health issues, or brain injury.

And it is more than that.  

It is the fact that people have been displaced in our society, through lack of employment, lack of opportunity, and lack of stability including housing.

And it is more than that. 

It is the fact that we use derogatory labels to stigmatize those who suffer with addiction.

It is this and so much more.

It is the fact that some lives mean more than other lives, that we are willing, as a society, to purposely displace, oppress, and demonize certain people.  

It is the fact that too many people walk through life without resources, purpose, a sense of worth, connection, and love.  

It is the fact that many people discover that substances help them feel better, and then, eventually just to feel normal, then to stave off horrific withdrawal symptoms.  

It will take much more than a few weeks or months in a treatment centre to address this problem.  

It will take our communities, our whole society, to begin to change how we see people, that all people belong in our society and our communities.  

It will take compassion, empathy, patience; it will take a willingness to relinquish our holier-than-thou judgment.  

It will take developing holistic plans that are flexible and inclusive.  

It will take a willingness to shed the lies we’ve been told about drugs and addiction for the last 100 plus years and re learn the reality of addiction.  

If there is one thing this pandemic has shed light on, it is that we must reach out and embrace those who are suffering from addiction, before they die, too.

Ben Goerner, a Lake Country a singer-songwriter, is a retired substance-use counsellor with 31 years in the field. You can read more on his blog at bensharmonics.com  


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