Why talk about addiction? As a community we try to encourage constructive development and promote positive values for all our people, so the subject of addiction may seem counter-productive or at the very least uncomfortable even annoying to some. Let’s face it there is a stigma attached to substance use and abuse. Opinions vary widely on substances, whether they are “legal” or “illegal” or we may have totally different attitudes toward different users. For example, a middle-age rock star usage seems almost “normal” or not threatening since he/she has the money to pay for the addiction and rehab. We may not be so lenient thinking about people experiencing substance dependency in the city core, we worry about the social cost and criminality that may result. I have to acknowledge that the two examples I just used may reinforce stereotypes and as such, are not a reliable picture of the problem of addiction. In reality problematic substance abuse exists in all socio-economic classes, cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
Truly it is not an easy topic to handle. People have differing opinions and different degrees of tolerance, prejudice and discrimination towards people who use substances. This stigmatisation and the feelings of shame and guilt often become a significant barrier to treatment and recovery for the person living with substance dependence.
We also have to acknowledge that our community members are subjected to the same circumstances that contribute to substance abuse in the general population: stress, depression, mental illness, loss of employment, physical pain, family problems, life-altering changes and a family history of substance abuse to name a few. Our children and grand-children are influenced by popular culture and may also experience peer pressure. For all these reasons it is valuable to get a better understanding of the problem of substance use and misuse so we can be better prepared to deal with it in a positive and effective manner.