They convey two important messages about common chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and breast cancer:
1) These common, chronic conditions afflict many people
2) People can and do survive and even recover when and if they receive the right kinds of help from others. Yet as an academic and research-savvy physician with nearly 40 years spent in the trenches diagnosing and treating all sorts of medical and psychiatric disorders, I am surprised by a glaring discrepancy.
Over 6 million Canadians will, during their lives, develop a substance use disorder making it a much bigger public health problem than most other psychiatric and medical diseases. Not only does it ruin the lives of those afflicted, but it also harms many others. But compared to the other chronic diseases, addiction is one of the most treatable. With improved awareness, education and early intervention, followed by a growing variety of evidence-based treatments, we see remarkably high rates of successful abstinent remission from even severe addiction.
Yet we, the recovering survivors and family members of this illness, are not to be seen out there beating the drum for recovery from the disease of addiction. Why not??
It is time we had an attitude adjustment from shameful concealment to hopeful celebration. In January 2015, a National Summit on Recovery from the Disease of Addiction was held in Ottawa. This historic meeting produced a Vision Statement and a set of Principles to help guide us as we move recovery from addiction out from the shadows into broad daylight where it may grow and flourish. Faces and Voices of Recovery Canada is one of the organizations dedicated to this cause.
Please join me in supporting this worthwhile movement.”