It’s Time to Lay off of Justin Bieber and Rob Ford

FordMany of us are spending a lot of time lately watching Rob Ford and Justin Bieber – likely the world’s most famous Canadians right now – implode.

They have both become fodder for late night hosts, comedians, and the ubiquitous Facebook memes. Social media is buzzing like mad about their antics and disastrous fall and with people both cashing in for their own benefit and others gleefully shrieking at the spectacle like citizens baying for blood in a Roman Coliseum.

But regardless of my personal feelings about either people, I am unsettled. You see, I am a drug addict. I was just fortunate enough to not be famous when I was in the throes of my addiction. I made terrible decisions, hurt people that I loved and who loved me, hung out with people who I knew were dragging me deeper into the abyss just because I knew that for a freaking second they wouldn’t judge me for my addictions, and relapsed.

For those of us who have a progressive/evidence-
based view of drug policy and actually want to see a society wherein we actually try and help rather than punish drug addicts; especially those at the margins, know that how we interact with these instances will not only have broad and lasting legislative repercussions as politicians are always watching how we react to such things but also addicts everywhere are watching how we react to this, and they are being taught a lesson in what it is like to both have and make public an addiction.

What incentive do I have to reach out for help if I know that even admitting to drug usage us going to likely end my career? Or open myself up to scrutiny in my recovery knowing that I am going to be mercilessly mocked if I slip up and relapse?

Listen, I may not be particularly fond of either of these men, but if because I dislike their music or their politics I can treat obviously pained, suffering, human beings with a complete lack of integrity and dignity, I have lost any moral high ground in the coming debates around all substance use issues.