Substance Disability not an Illness, Disease or Crime. It is an acquired, learned behavior which can me managed or changed.
In 2017 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mentioned in a tweet that it is about time we begin to Destigmatize drug addiction. No kidding. The consequence of it being decades over due has led to 11 over dose deaths a day and approximately $15 billion dollars in annual economic burden. Combined with personal experience. Canada has a lot of work to do.
We torch 15 billion dollars annually because of untreated substance disabilities. That is to say 90% of persons who need assistance and/or education fail to receive it because of the terrorized stigma associated with opening up. It gets worse. The invisible strain on the health care system from the deleterious health effects of ingesting harmful substances by those not assessed at the disability level is enormous. Stigma and our unwillingness to address it at all nor alone effectively has had the single biggest impact on the devastating consequences we see around Canada and the World stemming from substance addictions. If one were to look at the Paul J James story. It has been a horror story of unprecedented levels of mistreatment.
In a nutshell I should never have had to be unemployed throughout the past decade. I should never have lost my job. My career. My passion. The love of my life. I should not be living on the street. I should have the same choices I had back in 2008 to live as a free citizen. I should not have to receive such a patronizing stigmatized letter from CEO at Aids/Law Richard Elliot in the year 2018. I should not have my father and sister still deeming me as mentally sick in the year 2018. Stigma is the route cause to it all.
The elite end of the spectrum of substance dependence have the best chance of getting through the juggernaut of the stigma associated with drug use because of access to stardom or an infinite source of revenue to fend off the harmful effects of discrimination, prejudice, defamation and marginalization.
Worth noting if your life battery takes you to the ripe old age of 85 you would have lived 2.7 billion seconds reflecting just how much 15 billion dollars really is. Not an insignificant amount we burn into nothingness each year. It would take 6 people their whole lives to count out 15 billion dollars with no breaks and no sleeping.
So how do you get people to receive educational and/or support if and when they need it?
Puncture the stigma. De-stigmatize. And just how do you Destigmatize?
The one essential before we can even get to square two?
Decriminalize. It is why the Conservatives have absolutely no chance of winning the federal election next year or for some time to come. They have contributed most profoundly to the appalling mental health circumstances we have in Canada today. As much as I have the right to be angry, frustrated and even raged with the Liberal governments handling of the Paul J James matter, based on pure cause and effect the Conservative War on Drugs ideology has been devastating in terms of the carnage it has caused. Breathtaking. Future generations will look back with complete horror at what was permitted to take place. And all just because a person ingests a substance.
Decriminalize. Without decriminalizing all substances you cannot achieve an iota of improvement with penetrating the stigma of substance addiction and its dreadful far reaching negative consequences. Canadian society is so conditioned on still criminalizing people - the computer parts of our brains (Super-Ego) are obsessed with it. And it permits abuse at all levels - even structural stigma (Richard Elliot, for example) where persons remitted to assist still stigmatize, patronize, punish, ignore and scapegoat at an appalling level.
Former Police Chief Julian Fantino was once quoted as saying "legalizing marijuana will be like legalizing murder". There's that Super-Ego (computer part of the brain) talking again. Either Julian was ignorant or Machiavellian of the reality. He now heads a Cannabis company. That kind of irrationality and hypocrisy should not be permitted. But because Bad Politics rears its ugly head at every conceivable political level in Canada, unfortunately irrationality and hypocrisy has been transferred onto the next array of substances on the conveyor belt of desperate need for rational change.
And the same irrationality, hypocrisy and Machiavellianism of Julian Fantino, a Conservative, has been used by the Liberal government and York University with, thus far, devastating, ruthless, immoral effect onto the Paul J James case.
Make no mistake the Liberals will eventually promote and win the Decriminalization debate. In doing so however, they will have to expel the criminal/illness theory models of substance dependence. And when they do, it will identify their hypocrisy as being a million miles deep in the Paul J James circumstance. Their behavior Appalling. Repugnant. And Devastating. All to protect the power and wealth. And like with Julian Fantino they will apologize and admit they were wrong all along.
Simon Gossup from Kings College in London one of the top universities in the world authored some 30 plus years ago his famous Living With Drugs manuscript. The most rational intelligent easy to read reality on what substances and substance use is all about. He vehemently disagreed with the criminal/illness philosophies entirely, way back in 1980. Drug use was then considered Criminal behavior stemming from a criminal mindset. Then the Illness Model was adopted to buffer the depravity of how people were treated through criminalization. Both were deemed and are wrong. It is unimaginable to most sensible, with it experts, that we are living in 2018 where the masses by and large are still surfing between both immature, antiquated and dead wrong ideologies.
If you are so ILL/SICK you cannot possibly work. Yet using the Paul J James illustration I have been able to work this entire past decade. And in my worse moments in 2007/08 I was still able to work without it affecting other people negatively. And I was highly successful. My sister drinks a half bottle to a bottle of wine a day 7 days a week. Alcohol is the second/third most harmful drug in the world according to Lancet science which has been around for over 150 years. Yet she can function just like if I used I was and can function better in fact than if I drank alcohol.
Lets be clear. It is not to condone Substance Use of any kind. That is for sure. But if no one consumed anything then we would all die healthy. It is what we do about those persons susceptible to having difficulties managing their intake of any substance. Achieving complete abstinence is ideal but should not be the demand because it leads to complete societal annihilation for those who cannot. Learning how to manage and live with a mental health condition is the rational approach and philosophy which should have been adopted many decades ago.
Too often Ignoramuses and Machiavellian persona's regard me as sick including even my sister and father and that is when they do not even know if I use or not. Like so many other families they remain malleable to the absolute nonsense delivered to them - a consequence of deliberate societal stigma and conditioning.
If one were to peruse the Confronting the Stigma of Drug Addiction website (CTSODA) they would see what has been produced over the past two years. To consider the same person responsible for ALL the content has also completed nine hunger strikes and more soccer coaching assignments during the period than he had the previous 8 years combined, it is, highly stigmatizing and totally irrational to classify Paul J James as mentally sick and mentally ill. It is also undignified and disrespectful. And there in lies the invisible stigma element of framing substance disabilities as an illness and disease. Very convenient for the purveyors of injustice to do so of course. But so very wrong. I have a disability but can function. I have always been able to function. Whether I need to use into the future is no body's business. If justice was served and a proper career job were the consequence it would be the best opportunity for anyone in the same position to never use again. Its the social aspect of the BioPsychoSocial model of substance dependence - the most neglected and difficult to overcome because of the ingrained stigma and politics of the Canadian system. And it hinders progress. Employment, passion/purpose in life is the number one social determinant of good health. And no amount of rehabbing can solve that particular problem. It is what makes York University's, and the Liberal government's handling of the Paul J James matter so appalling and egregious.
Bad politics should never, ever be intertwined with mental health disabilities which sadly has been the case in the Paul J James matter.
Finally, you should know.
During the Paul J James "poor health trajectory" back in 2007 my use became unmanageable where I needed assistance. Not because of increasing amounts of use per occasion which was always minuscule in comparison to what would have been considered normalcy but because of the combination of 14 hour days, seven days a week working and personal social isolation. Opening up however was the worse decision I ever made, when it should not have been. Society's ostracism has been the cause of my current circumstances - not substance use. It is an essential Position of Clarity we have to accept and understand. Societal stigma is by an almighty chasm, the worse part of substance disability. And calling people ILL because they use ostracizes them to complete poverty and humiliation. That is the reality. Had I never opened up I would have still been working and would have had a decade more success and wealth.