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No easy solutions for Toronto mayor

Posted on February 27, 2014 by Sunny South News

Following a long string of denials and falsehoods, embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford at some point hit upon a sad truth when it comes to drug use.

When asked why he lied about using drugs, Ford said he was “embarrassed” and “didn’t want to tell the truth,” during his newly launched Ford Nation YouTube series.

“I’m not a drug addict, I don’t use drugs. Have I in the past? Yes. And when they ask me, it’s very humiliating in front of the world to say yes. Everybody has lied,” Ford said.

Aside from his denial of addiction — armchair critics diagnose to their heart’s content — although the final say should be reserved for professionals, the humiliation Ford speaks of is something that would ring true to people with substance abuse problems, the proverbial rock of Sisyphus to push upwards.

Ford’s admission comes right after the death of award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from a heroin overdose.

In 2012, Cory Monteith who gained fame in the television series “Glee,” also died from a heroin overdose. Amy Winehouse, River Phoenix, Whitney Houston, Chris Farley, Heath Ledger, Brittany Murphy, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe . . . the list could go on of famous people who have died in similar manners.

Then there’s Justin Bieber with his evergrowing erratic behaviour, or Lindsay Lohan, whose struggle with addiction has been tabloid fodder for years.

The likes of Bieber, Lohan and Ford have sadly become punchlines.

There has been an outpouring of grief for Hoffman but there have also been the less-than-charitable comments — “They deserve what happened to them, they should have known better. . . what do you expect?”

Superstars aside, how many Canadians die of drug overdoses each year? The actual number is hard to track because this data is left to provinces to tally. There are some snippets.

For example, from 2000 to 2010, overdoses of prescription medication resulted in 140 to 180 deaths annually, according to statistics from the Coroners Service of British Columbia.

Back in 2009, Alberta’s chief medical examiner at the time reported from 1998 to 2008 the number of annual non-suicide deaths attributed to intoxicants rose from 210 to 437 — a number that doesn’t line up with population growth, and high compared to rates in Ontario.

Then there’s the recent study Benedikt Fisher and fellow researchers at Simon Fraser University that pegged one in six teenagers are using prescription pills like oxycodone and Percocet “non-medically.”

Celebrities have the funds and means for the rehab clinics, doctors and everything that could help them — that they end up dead is a telling sign about how overwhelming addiction can be.

There aren’t easy solutions, there’s no magical cure that allows a person to gallop merrily off into the sunset, happily ever after.

It’s humbling, it’s hard and it’s humiliating and hardly needs the less than charitable comments thrown in.

You may not have known Hoffman, but statistically speaking, everyone — even unknowingly — knows someone who is struggling with addiction.

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