Earlier this summer, Canada's first transitional housing dedicated to LGBT youth opened in Toronto--the YMCA's Sprott House. Reading about this great initiative raised our awareness about an issue that needs to be on the radar of all Canadians -- the unacceptable rate of LGBT youth who have no place to call home. LGBT youth become homeless for much of the same reasons as other young people -- family conflict, abuse, mental health issues and addiction. LGBT youth also experience higher rates of mental health and addiction issues in large part because of discrimination.
Talking to kids about drugs can be difficult, even intimidating for a parent, teacher, or counsellor. It's hard when the children we care about so deeply roll their eyes at us and say, "Yeah, I know!!" But often they don't know, not until someone's death touches them -- and when it comes to this malicious and criminal spread of fentanyl, we have to make sure they do know.
People say that Tinder is addictive, and I can see why. It provides no joy, no closeness, no meaning. It's superficially stimulating and gives a false promise of fulfillment; just enough to compel the user to repeat the activity over and over again, in the hopes that eventually, they'll find what they're looking for.
Conversations about cannabis policy are heating up. So it's no surprise that we suddenly seem immersed in claims and counterclaims on a slew of topics related to cannabis use and regulation. The International Centre for Science in Drug Policy has tasked itself with determining the strength of scientific support for such claims. Over the past year, we've been working diligently on scanning the news media and online conversations about cannabis to identify the most oft-repeated or high-profile claims including the ones above related to its use and regulation.
Two years before I entered high school, I was the victim of a violent rape that took place a mere few kilometres from the football locker room I was now standing in. From the moment of that assault, I chose to disappear, fractured into different people -- the person I was afraid to let you see, the person I wanted you to see, and the young man who struggled with that internal turmoil every day for the next 30 years. I've heard that living as a survivor of rape is like living with a secret tumor. It metastasizes in the dark hollows of shame, and it continues to destabilize and corrupt every bond and every relationship in a survivor's life.
It is not a loving act to allow addicts to get away with self-destructive behaviour. If someone in active addiction is consistently being rescued from the potentially negative and harmful consequences of his or her behaviour by his family, friends, teachers, bosses, or colleagues, then why should he ever change anything?
Over the past few years, I've written extensively about, and on many occasions have spoken candidly of my struggles with addiction, mental health issues, and sexual violence. I have grown to believe that the greatest antidote to fear is honesty, and it's with this in mind, that I share the following with you. For the past few months, I've engaged in a convoluted relationship with time. It all started out rather innocent. Hours were slipping away from me, and I had absolutely no idea how to account for that lost time.
My name is Jean-Paul, and I am in treatment for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Hearing me say that usually elicits one of two responses in people -- abject pity or recoiling fear. I want you to know that I understand where you're coming from, but allow me a few minutes to see if we can change this dialogue.
Within the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous, the word "recovered" comes up at lot, and come to think of it, why wouldn't it? Many an addict latches on to that idea as a desperate lifeline of hope. I, on the other hand, have grown to embrace the fact that until the day I die, I will be a recovering alcoholic. I long ago decided to make peace with this disease, but that in no way makes me immune to feeling frustrated and angry by the circumstances surrounding my relationship with the addiction.
People often assume that the main problem of addiction comes down to an addict's lack of willpower or commitment. Although it may appear that way from the outside looking in, I would suggest the complete opposite is true. I say this because the addicts I've met in recovery are some of the most tenacious, resilient, and creative people on the planet.
I believe that deep inside, all of us have something that eats away at us, something that just doesn't sit right. Maybe it's some trauma from your past, or hurtful words that still resonate, or even some "dis" ease you are currently living with. For me, it was coming to terms with sexual abuse in my childhood.
I believe that bullying is an addiction. We use addictive behaviours to mask what we feel --generally about our own low self-esteem and dissatisfaction about our lives. Anything can become an addiction if we are using it for that purpose: drugs, alcohol, food, TV, smoking, gambling, excessive spending, gaming, sex, co-dependency in relationships -- the list goes on and on.
Even though I've been clean and sober now for almost 18 years, without a doubt, I continue to move through life with the mind of an addict. For me, learning how to "soften into things" means learning how to quiet my ego, the presence that convinces me that in order to build myself up, I need to tear someone else down.
Mental illness is one of the biggest predictors of inequitable access to care in this country. We know that having a mental illness means that you are far less likely to get the healthcare you need than someone without a mental illness and that mental illness is a bigger predictor of poor access to care than low income.
If I look at a snapshot of my life 18 years ago, I see a young man ravaged by a spiraling alcohol and drug addiction, a man fractured in spirit desperate to claw his way out of the darkest hell of a deep depression. Shortly after entering a treatment program to deal with my addiction issues, I took my first tentative steps into the world of running. Before I knew it, I had found my "people." I had stumbled upon my "tribe."
When patients get into trouble with highly addictive pain medications, their family physicians may not know where to refer them for help. To make matters worse, the prescribing habits of some physicians -- such as giving too high a dose of a drug -- can contribute to patients becoming addicted to painkillers.