Saturday, 1 February 2020

Some Musings on Addictions and Harm Reduction

Anyone do dry January? I did. I called it tonight. Because there's a Jets game on and because January is a really long month. And because it was ok until a couple of days ago when I was looking at the calendar and arguing with myself. "28 days is four weeks. That's a month." Nope 
But, man, beer is lovely. And the first Moosehead Light (approaching drinking cautiously) hit me like a sledgehammer. Tipsy on one beer. And if I can remain mostly alcohol free going forward, I am going to be a "cheap date" from now on. Wow. 
Who'd a thought tolerance could go down so fast? And my point is, actually, that we need to have better systems in place to monitor and support people coming out of rehab. I keep hearing about people who OD shortly after coming out of rehab. 
They think a little won't hurt. They are out before they have resolved all their issues and the gnawing urge is still there. But what would have been a "little bit" back when they were using heavily, is too much once they have cleaned their system. 
We, as a society, need to do better. I have been reading "From the Ashes", one of the Canada Reads books. It reinforced my understanding that addicts aren't addicted because they are stupid, or morally bereft. Trauma causes addiction. And if we let these people die because 
we are too parsimonious to provide the care and support that is really needed, we are losing as a society. We are losing intellect, creativity, and the spark that makes a society strong. If we ban safe injection sites, and that crucial link with help and a new life, we fail. 
We fail those people. We fail their families and friends and community. We fail ourselves. @michifman has written a heart-wrenching and eye-opening memoir that demonstrates how labels do no good. How inadequate the public understanding and the public funding is in... 
addressing this huge social problem. No. It's not just indigenous people, or POC or poor people. Mental health, trauma, and addiction leave scars at all socioeconomic and cultural levels. "Son of a Trickster" by @Monkey__Beach reinforces this. Both amazing Canada Reads entries. 
We need to put aside our biases and pre-conceived notions. Addicts could be us, our children, our friends. Addiction doesn't care about income or skin colour. Emotional pain happens whoever you are and wherever you grew up. If you have been untouched by horror, consider yourself lucky. But don't look down on those who have faced extreme challenges. You aren't better than they. Just more fortunate. We need to push our governments at all levels to address this health crisis. A mental health crisis manifesting as a substance abuse crisis. 
OK. I went a bit darker than I meant to. But the issue is serious and we can't let old thinking govern how we address and fix these problems. It's complex. Let's not put bandaids on it. Here endeth the lesson.

Post-script: Jason Kenney came out claiming there is extensive research showing that harm reduction is bad. I would like to see this research.