Opinion by EHN Staff
For a supposedly taboo topic, addiction has been getting an awful lot of media attention lately. Maybe it’s the fact that opioid addiction has reached crisis levels such that the Canadian and US governments have had to severely regulate painkiller prescriptions, or that Canadians are dying of fentanyl overdose at an alarming rate, but this uncomfortable subject is finally being openly discussed. It’s about time.
We hope that addiction coverage in the media will help to dispel myths about this condition and clarify the way forward in treating this disease on both an individual and policy basis.
Knowledge, Compassion, and Hope
Time Magazine recently published a special edition, The Science of Addiction, a curated set of articles addressing three aspects of this condition: the science behind addiction, the many types of addiction treatment available, and personal stories of addiction’s consequences. According to the back cover, “[t]he rise in addiction has had an impact on so many lives and families. It has also led to a rise in knowledge, compassion, and hope.” We have hope, too.
This special edition includes infographics, expert interviews, scientific exploration, and heartfelt stories of optimism. Some of the articles address less obvious addictions, such as caffeine—the world’s most socially acceptable drug. This Time issue also includes an article about food addiction, a topic that is much debated by doctors and researchers and is in many cases not recognized as a true substance use disorder. One of the convincing points of this article quotes National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Dr. Nora Volkow’s 2015 TedMed Talk: “In all my years as a physician, I have never met a person who chose to be an addict, nor have I ever met someone who chose to be obese.” Addiction has many different facets and needs to be treated on an individual basis, meeting people where they are. This is what we strive to do at each EHN Canada facility.
Time Addresses Many Types of Addictions and Treatments
The issue also covers the ever-concerning increase in vaping habits among young people, and a detailed expose of the opioid crisis. The contributors give space for many types of addictions, including process addictions such as gambling, shopping, and sex addiction.
Addiction treatment is discussed in detail in the second section, from the cost of addiction treatment, to 12-step programs, to innovative new treatment methods such as magnetic brain stimulation. Some of the treatment articles feature stories of hope, where addiction takes a family to the brink of complete ruin, only for the love, support and strength of the family to triumph as the person recovers.
The final section includes stories of recovery, including not only personal stories but also insightful stories of famous people and even fictional characters across film, TV, and literature. Highlighting the diverse faces of addiction, black-and-white photo essays of homeless people injecting drugs in garbage-riddled city-scapes are interspersed between sanitized profiles of famous creatives with addictions to designer shopping. The articles provide much-needed optimism.
Read the Issue and Keep the Discussion Going
We encourage you to pick up a copy of this Time magazine special edition, The Science of Addiction. The stories are at once inspiring, infuriating, enlightening, heart-wrenching, and full of hope. Each article is a compelling read, and the editors have clearly been mindful of the pain of this topic—they intersperse heavy-hitting articles with more digestible reading.
Will an uptick in discussion of this topic help people? Hopefully, given that with increased conversations we aim to lower the stigma surrounding addiction and seeking help. If we seek to understand the ways in which our brains are wired to become addicted, we can be done with the misconception that addiction is simply a lack of willpower. We can truly appreciate that addiction, like all diseases, is a multifaceted phenomenon. As we face epidemic levels of addiction, we must have these uncomfortable conversations in order to advance treatment. We thank Time Magazine for their contribution and we hope that media coverage of addiction continues to open up difficult conversations. We want everyone to know it is okay to seek help.
We Can Help You
If you would like to learn more about the treatment programs provided by EHN Canada, enrol yourself in one of our programs, or refer someone else, please call us at one of the numbers below. We’re here to talk about addiction and recovery. Our phone lines are open 24/7—so you can call us anytime.