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Stigma and judgment only contribute to Ontario’s addiction pandemic

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Living with addiction often isn’t a solitary experience. Individuals, families, and communities all suffer when even just one person finds themselves in the grip of alcohol, drugs, and/or mental distress.  

September is Recovery Month in Canada and the United States. It’s a time for people who have overcome addiction to share their stories of hope and triumph, and a time for those who haven’t found their way yet to hear that they aren’t alone, and that people care.  

The truth is that just like any other health issue, no one asks for addiction. No one asks to be so vulnerable that they can’t get out of bed in the morning, or to be homeless. The belief that addiction is solely a choice is a short-sighted and ignorant point of view.  

There are many factors that lead to addiction. For example, real-time and generational trauma creates voids in people’s lives the same way cancer prevents a person’s ability to be healthy. And hereditary predispositions can exist for addiction just as they do for many other ailments. We must not judge those who fall victim to addiction; we must seek ways to help and support.  

To create a healthier society, this kind of understanding must become the norm. Without it, stigma, prejudice, hate, and pain will persist. With that comes inaction and indifference and a society that is not as healthy as it could be, affecting all of us through higher health costs, increased crime, a backlogged healthcare system, and many other issues.  

Fortunately, Ontario has services that are operated by caring and willing healthcare professionals, many of whom are OPSEU members working in places such as group homes, hospitals, community education and health centres. We applaud these members for their compassion and dedication and encourage them to continue to fight for the health of all Ontarians.  

If you suffer from addictions or struggle with your mental health, please know that there is help and there are people who care.  

During Recovery Month, and every day of the year, let’s all work hard to raise awareness about the devastating plight many suffer from and find ways to work together to make a healthier and happier Ontario.