Challenging the Language of Addiction

Mike Pond PsychotherapistMy name is Michael Pond and I live with an alcohol use disorder. (AUD) That’s what we now call alcoholism in the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 5. In psychology and psychiatry, the DSM-5 is our bible.

The change in language is in part to address the reality that so much of the talk around alcoholism, – e.g. – “addict,” “getting clean,” “alcohol abuser,” “drunk” is negative and casts a moral tone over what science has proven is a medical problem.

What’s also proven is that making someone feel bad about their drinking or using only makes the disorder worse. That’s why I’m so excited to be an integral part of this new website. I believe changing the conversation about addiction will help sufferers and their families, heal.

There’s been much discussion and debate in recent years over exactly what addiction is: self-medicating, disease, disorder, learned behaviour, lack of willpower, choice, spiritual malady, hijacked reward circuitry. That debate may continue for some time. I only know regardless of what you call it, those of us who have the misfortune to be predisposed to addiction, end up very ill. So ill, we may die. Like anyone else gravely ill, we deserve the best compassionate, evidence-based care available.

You, the taxpayer, continue to foot the bill for failed treatment and failed policy. There is very likely someone you know or love suffering from a substance use disorder. It’s time they got the treatment they deserve.

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5 Comments

June Connors

I am living with someone who has this disease and would like more information an how to deal with it as I care and love this person very much. Both my daughters have/are struggling with addiction. And yes I have addiction issues as well. It runs in the family, both sides. Please email me some more information.

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ATNS Team

Thank you for sharing, June. We hope you will find this resource useful. The Interactive Guide will be on the site in January – the evidence-based guide will include tools and expert videos that you may find helpful. We recommend signing up for the newsletter to be notified of updates, and have emailed you the link to the newsletter subscription. You may also find some of the information that we post to Twitter and Facebook useful, if you’d like to follow us there.

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Serena Aubrey

I am drowning in the sea of addiction. My youngest daughter (33), is ensnared in the swirling cesspool of heroin addiction. She lives in my home, breaking every boundary I try to maintain. I am so weary. And as weary as I am of this endless vicious cycle, I know that she must be a thousand-fold more weary of it than I. I have tried to love her back to health, but I fear I am only making things worse. I went to counselling for my own sake and was told to kick her out of my home. Kick her out? And that will help my mental well-being??? To lay awake every night imagining the worse? To put her out on the street would make her even more vulnerable to her high-risk activities than she already is. At least she has a safe haven to come home to. But still…her behaviours in my home are unacceptable to me. I feel as if I am a hostage to this disease. I live in the same area as Michael Pond travelled through during his years on the street…I recognize the names of all the facilities he ended up in. I have begged her to admit herself to the same treatments he attended. She is not willing. She tells me the same thing I read about on this site…the old-school treatment modalities are not going to help her. She has been using since she was 15, maybe even before that. She says that the what took her 18 years to create is not going to change in 28 days. And when it comes to the sickness of withdrawal…she says she is not able to face it. I am desperately seeking a way out of this mess. Mayhap I can find the help we both need through this site?? I will follow the fb page for updates, for sure.

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ATNS Team

I truly understand your exhaustion, frustration and fear. It takes considerable courage and commitment to stick by your daughter. You need to be proud of yourself. You didn’t mention in your comment, but I’m wondering whether your daughter has had an opportunity to try some of the new medications that have been proven to help people kick opiods, like suboxone or naltrexone? A slow release injectable naltrexone, called Vivitrol is also available in the US. It too has been proven to be very effective for the treatment of opioid use disorder. Google therapists familiar with the CRAFT model. Evidence-based therapy in conjunction with appropriate medications increases the probability of successful outcome. Check back with us in a few weeks. We’ll publish a list of all the medications available in Canada to help those battling substance use disorders. I wish you well. Your daughter is lucky to have you.

– Michael

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