Are Canadians doing a better job at helping people with mental illness and addiction than they did 10 years ago? The truth is that the number of people developing problems with substance abuse or compulsive behaviours is increasing. You can go on any news outlet right now and see that there’s an epidemic taking place in our country. There’s an opioid crisis with Fentanyl, W-18 and Carfentanil hitting Canadian cities at an alarming rate. Hundreds of Canadians are overdosing on these drugs, especially in BC.
Is the increase in these drugs the real problem? Or is this just part of larger problem? The Canadian government is beginning to realize that these overdoses are part of a much bigger problem- addiction.
On Bell Let’s Talk Day, most of the focus is usually placed on mental illness but there isn’t a lot of conversation about addiction. Perhaps we all need to talk about it more, given the fact that people with a mental illness are twice as likely to have substance abuse problems.
Addiction continues to be a subject that we avoid because it’s misunderstood and carries a ton of stigma. Many individuals believe addiction is a choice and it only happens to a certain group of people. At the Edgewood Health Network we know that this not the case.
Addiction isn’t a hobby that someone decides to pick up one day. Many people who have developed an addiction may have started using pain medication because they were prescribed by a doctor to help them with a medical condition or they were struggling in silent with mental illness. In other cases, it was a way of avoiding unpleasant feelings as a result of past memories or trauma. Addiction was a way to numb the physical or emotional pain that they lived through. Unfortunately, not everyone survives this chronic disease.
What’s the upside of this story? The people who are in recovery decided that enough was enough! Even though their brain told them to keep using, their hearts understood that recovery was the only way that would prevent them from total self-destruction. Recovery is our answer to helping people who are living with addiction and mental illness. Recovery is the reason why families who were falling apart became whole again. It gives people the tools to live again and give back to others who are in need.
On Bell Let’s Talk Day, let’s talk about addiction and recovery because it doesn’t matter what age you are, whether you are 30 or 50. People do recover.
If you are struggling with addiction and mental illness, we hope these quotes from our alumni in recovery will inspire you to talk to someone today and ask for help.
Recovery is the greatest gift you can give to yourself.
“I have been in recovery for most of my 30’s and it’s been miraculous! Had you told me at 33 (when I got sober) who I would be and what my life would look like at 39, I would have told you it wasn’t possible. Maybe even that you were crazy. Gratitude is too simple a word to describe the awe and joy I have in my life now that I am living recovery. And I’m so excited I get the chance to live the rest of my life this way.”
“Being in recovery in my 30’s is like living a new life daily. Waking up every morning in freedom is much better than trying to get out of the hell I was living in. Recovery at first is challenging but as time goes on it gets better and better!”
“Recovery began for me when I was finally able, not only to accept help, but to ask for it. Since then everything has changed. Things haven’t always gone my way but there has always been a way out and a lesson to learn. Honestly, coming into treatment was such a blur for me. But if there was one thing I took away from it,that I still use to support my recovery, it was this: A community of people exists who have experienced, and overcome, every single problem I have in my life. What is required is my effort to connect to them as best I can. When I heard the words that ‘addiction is suicide on an installment plan’ I realized that I had to face the fact that, despite all I had ever told myself, I was becoming just like my father. Treatment is a process that allowed me to reclaim my life as my own, not anyone else’s.”
“Sobriety is a choice for a new life. Recovery to me is being FREE. It sounds weird but it’s not. I’m not thinking or obsessing of when my next drink is going to be and when I’m going to get high on drugs. Now it’s not even on my mind when things go wrong. If that’s not freedom what is?”
 Mental Illness and Addictions: Facts and Statistics-CAMH. Retrieved on January 24, 2017 https://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/about_camh/newsroom/for_reporters/Pages/addictionmentalhealthstatistics.aspx