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The express route to mental illness

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail

Researchers are finding that addiction is the result of biochemical disruptions in the brain ...Read the full article

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  1. Johnn Baraka from Victoria, Canada writes: I have recently organized and started LifeRing Secular Recovery (LSR) meetings in Victoria to huge fanfare. LSR is orginally from California but is making its way up into Canada. It is an alternative to twelve-step meetings and everybody needs a choice in how they recover.

    Check out www.unhooked.com
  2. Jung Frau from Switzerland writes: I would find the title laughable if it weren't so telling. 'The Express Route to Mental Illness' is found in the first sentence of the article: 'From the lab to the legislature, the push is on to recognize and treat addiction as a mental illness. A growing body of research finds addiction is not the result of bad behaviour or weak character, but the result of biochemical disruptions in the brain that genetically vulnerable people are, on their own, powerless to overcome.'

    I smell big money to be made by the pharmaceutical companies, the psychiatrists and all the hangers on (researchers, academics, social services). People have been told for decades that their problems are biochemical. What progress has been made in helping people get over their problems? This article trots out the same tired old viewpoint that people are not responsible for their problems and are powerless to help themselves. All we have to do is put our trust in someone we do not know (a doctor), who knows nothing about who we are and where we come from, ie the personal story that has brought us to the sad point where we have ended up.
  3. jeff schlemmer from London, Canada writes: 'From the lab to the legislature, the push is on to recognize and treat addiction as a mental illness.'

    Yet the McGuinty government continues to fight the Werbeski case arguing that if one's disability includes addiction (as disabilities involving crippling mental illness often do) then the disabled Ontarian should be refused Ontario Disability benefits (relying on a particularly nasty amendment made to the law by Premier Harris).

    Last week I watched a government representative make this same argument against a young man who has not been able to find a psychiatrist, and found that he could sedate his severe anxiety disorder enough so he could work only by taking illicit drugs. When he sought the help of a methadone clinic to kick the drugs the anxiety returned and he could no longer work. Mr McGuinty's government is fighting hard to prevent his getting disability benefits since 'he's just a drug addict'.

    Clearly the McGuinty government will eventually run out of appeals with which to continue to delay paying these desperately needed disability benefits - as all recent Courts have made it clear that addiction is a disability like any other.

    Mr. McGuinty's peevish delaying action does his government no credit and stands in embarassing contrast to the trend away from stigmatizing and punishing mental illness and its symptoms, including addiction, as being simply 'the result of bad behaviour or weak character'.
  4. Glenn Miller from Hamilton, Canada writes: Jung Frau-you are so right. The psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical companies smell big money in expanding the diagnosis of addiction as a medical disease What a crock! They are already trying to get nicotine addiction classified as a disease. And what's the best treatment for this disease? Why, a rebranded anti-depressant of course.

    Since the psychiatrists are the only ones being given taxpayer money by our government, they have a stranglehold on treatment. And their treatments don't work. A drug addict who stops using meth every day and cuts back to just binges on weekends is considered a success. All other drug addiction programs that don't involve psychiatrists and psychologists have to struggle to find enough money to try to stay alive. Some of these programs have a much higher success rate, and success is measured by the addict no longer using drugs and becoming an honest and contributing member of society.
  5. bruce weaver from Canada writes: I have always thought if you can quit something how can it be an illness. I know people who were alcoholics who quit. I knew someone addicted to crack cocaine who quit. My uncle was a schizophrenic. He couldn't quit he was like that the rest of his life. Surely there is a difference between an addict and someone with a true mental illness.
  6. Sue City from Canada writes: Another excuse for people to not take control of their lives. I've dealt with an addiction and I worked hard to overcome it. If I could've leaned on the 'I am sick, therefore, I am helpless' idea, I might not have beaten it. Though, chronic and abusive addiction (ie. hard-core junkies, binge drinkers) may not have the required willpower as they are truly living inside the allegory.

    But, are we only talking substance addiction here? What about sex addicts, pedophiles, rapists? Will they use this as a defense? 'I couldn't help myself. It's in my genes.' Blah, blah, blah... Could be an ugly can of worms.
  7. Sue City from Canada writes: Glen, it's already classified as a 'medical disease'. They are now re-labelling it a 'mental' disease rather than simply physical one.
  8. Emma Hawthorne from Canada writes: A lot more needs to be done to reform government and the health care system so that they can step in to break the addiction cycle instead of continually reinforcing addiction by providing monthly cash payments to the addicted, in the form of social services benefits rather than direct payments to landlords, grocery outlets, etc., while aggressive clerk-level gatekeepers keep the addicted out of treatment clinics when they finally are able to reach out for help. Even when volunteers and advocates step up to help the addicted gain medical access, the wall of delays usually goes on until the addicted person's limited window of willingness has closed. Continual enabling and mixed messages from health care and government are an invitation and reinforcement for more addiction. As the media and the province only tend to listen or even give voice to those they believe are experts, even the most basic data pointing to needed reforms, rarely reaches either. However the province has made progress on homelessness by making rental payments directly to landlords savvy enough to inist upon this before renting to an addicted person.
  9. G Smith from Toronto, Canada writes: Glenn Miller said: '... success is measured by the addict no longer using drugs and becoming an honest and contributing member of society.'

    Equating addiction with inherent dishonesty is unhelpful at best, as is the assumption that anyone with an addiction cannot 'contribute' meaningfully to society. Such stigma is as great a barrier as any to recognition and sucessful treatment of substance abuse.
  10. Emma Hawthorne from Canada writes: The addicted require sophisticated masters-level addiciton counsellors more than any other kind of expert. They can make the best assessments and keep the addicted engaged and on track. Couldn't GPs quickly write any need prescriptions? Southern US states have long trained psychologists to write prescritons for mentally ill patients. Shouldn't we be doing the same? Also, Our health care system has locked out a virtual army of highly-trained psychologists with better training, in my view, than any other professionals. Isn't it time we invited psychologists into OHIP to allow the right personnel on the scene to support the addicted rather than blindly patronize the medical profession even when they are not the best professionals for the task at hand?
  11. Sergent Pepper from Canada writes: One major area to explore is the impact of religion on how people feel about mental illness. I grew up in the Salvation Army, a church that looks at addiction, particularly at alcohol, as a result of sin. Granted, the SA has helped a lot of people. But I'm sure there are lot of street people out there (a very high percentage of whom suffer from mental illness) who can tell you stories of how in order to get food and shelter for one night, whether at the SA or other missions, they had to attend a religious service offered by that mission. I think that one of the biggest, if not the biggest, stigma to erase is the one that says that mental illness is the result of sin.
  12. victoria m from Canada writes: bruce weaver from Canada writes: I have always thought if you can quit something how can it be an illness.
    ~~~~~

    The thing is that you never 'quit' the addiction. Most people who have gone through addictions know that they will crave that substance or behaviour until the day they die. And once they participate in it again, the old addiction will come raging back, along with the physiological and psychological responses.

    I think many people are missing the fact that labelling addiction as a mental disease doesn't completely absolve a person of responsibility for the addiction. It just says that it's not purely about a person's character, the person isn't necessarily an addict because the want to be destructive or want to hurt others. The research backing it shows that there are genetic, physiological and psychological factors that need to be considered in a person's treatment and that saying 'just stop it' isn't really going to fix the problem. Everyone's addiction will be different, as will everyone's treatment and everyone's version of recovery and quitting.

    Just like a schizophrenic, we don't blame them for their mental condition and we also realize that their treatment will vary from person to person with a combination of meds and/or therapy. A person with schizophrenia will need to struggle to keep up with their treatment/meds just like an addict will need to struggle to keep up with treatment/meds and avoiding their addiction.
  13. Emma Hawthorne from Canada writes: Researchers need to study subtle genetic differences which create deficits of Niacin, along with compulsive cigarrette smoking in large sectors of the mentally ill and in prison populations. Niancin and nicotine are closely related. Some very reputable ADHD experts are now even treating children with Niacin and other Vitamin B regimes along with fish oils, Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, etc. Major mental illness has the same kinds of markers, hence propsects can be improved early on with simple vitamins! Our researchers need to climb down from their ivory towers and see what is happening on the ground.
  14. Shirly Turney from Tampa Bay, United States writes: This article reads like a few recent articles in the USA. It's another attempt to create, label and prescribe drugs for another so called 'mental disease'. Does anyone have any idea how many people are on psych drugs in the United States? It's a very bad situation with ultimately pathetic personal consequences and we are headed toward a completely controlled society - while the big pharma drug companies continue to make ever expanding profits for their investors. It's not about help - it's about power and control.
  15. Jung Frau from Switzerland writes: You can actually quit being a schizophrenic, too. It takes some work, the solutions are not obvious, but you can do it. The people who don't want you to quit are the mental health professionals because you are their paycheque. They will object strenously to my putting it this way, of course. They think they are doing good. That's why the solutions are not easily found for getting over schizophrenia. The only person interested in getting over schizophrenia is the schizophrenic, and then, not always. Lots of schizophrenics (and addicts, and bi-polars, etc.) have bought what Robertson Davies refers to as 'the higher hokum'.
  16. Jung Frau from Switzerland writes: In reference to your comment ('I think that one of the biggest, if not the biggest, stigma to erase is the one that says that mental illness is the result of sin.') I would like to say that I am of the opinion that mental illness is the result of sin. I came to this conclusion because one of the therapies that my family underwent for my son's schizophrenia that produced astonishing results (acting normal again) was based on the rather quaint idea of original sin and the convenant with God. The sins of the fathers will be passed down three and four generations. It is based on the premise that all members of a family, living and dead, have the right to their place in the family tree. If someone is denied this right to belong, another family member will (usually unknowingly and often generations later) exclude themselves as an act of atonement for the injustice. Family conscience secures justice for the earlier members and causes injustice for the younger in the form of addictions, cancers, etc. Schizophrenics are particularly vulnerable to taking on the burdens of previous generations. They feel the pain. This Judeo-Christian view of original sin seems to have no place in our modern world, which finds the idea that the innocent must atone for an ancestor's past sins just downright antiquated and not progressive. In practical terms, an exclusion in a former generation means somebody dying young, going to prison (family shame), a still birth, an abortion, somebody profiting at someone else's expense, etc. etc. The therapy that our family undertook is called Family Constellation Therapy and is very popular in Germany (google Bert Hellinger). The amazing thing is that it works.
  17. D Ring from Toronto, Canada writes: Jung Frau .... do us all a favor , turn your computer off and take a loooong walk .
  18. Craig Houston from sutton, Canada writes: Victoria M has hit the nail on the head about addiction. As a grateful recovering alcoholic, I know full well about the disease of addiction. For those of you who have commented on this subject and are not addicts yourself, I sugest you increase you research from none at all until you know of what you speak.
    Willpower has nothing to do with addiction. You want what you want when you want it. Granted an addict has to take responsibility and request help like I did. There is help available and not all involves drugs. I went through rehab myself and it was a life saving experience and am now an active member of A.A. I am now weening myself off of the drug I take for depression as I feel I know longer require it.
    There are organizations available for addicts to help them with their disease. A.A. gamblers anonymous, and narcotics anonymous are just 3 where an addict can go get help and provide help for the still struggling addict.
    The various provincial govt's in Canada receive hundreds of millions from taxes on cigarettes, alcohol and gambling. Much much much more must be put back into not only prevention, but helping the addict to try and overcome their specific addiction.
  19. Sergent Pepper from Canada writes: Yung Frau, I expected someone would make the important distinction you make. Besides being born in the Salvation Army, I am also a third-generation survivor of genocide. Meaning, I am still trying to resolve the impact on my life of all the tears and fears my grandparents shed after losing home, family and country because of racism. This experience alone has taught me how depression and anxiety can be passed on from one generation to the next--'the sins of our fathers' concept. But I'm referring to the religiously-imposed stigma that says that your mental illness is payment for the sins you've committed in your life. I can trace the roots of my anxiety, for instance, all the way back to when I was seven years old and depression, to when I was eleven years old. Tell me, what sin can a seven- and eleven-year olds commit to deserve a life-long sentence of a predisposition to anxiety and depression? Okay, today's article is saying: young people who use cannabis have an increased risk of schizophenia. But one of the very human characteristics of being young is to explore and sometimes making not-so-wise decisions: some get away with those decisions, some don't. Why should one young person have to pay the price with schizophenia, and not the other? That's the kind of stigma that should be de-sinified, if I may use the term.
  20. lindapc foothills rocky mountains from Canada writes: This is not a shocker to the average parent that has watched their child spiral on a course of insanity while being addicted to alcohol, drugs, sex and or gambling.
    For a great many years, I have been hearing how addictions are a result of mental illness, now it comes out that that is the reality.
    So, what can anyone do for the people that have genuine mental illness, documented, quantified by a physician; in regards to the addictions?
    Will there be more facilities built to supply help to those individuals that may require more intense treatment in the area of mental health/addictions...or is this just another way to pass the proverbial buck, onto the backs of the many parents that have already shouldered the financial responsibility of getting their adult children into treatment centers across the country.
    Anyone that has a family history of any type of mental illness will eventually be prohibited from procreation to further prevent the spread of addictions.
  21. Scary Fundamentalist from Vancouver, Canada writes: Someone please answer this:

    If people are really predisposed towards a particular addiction (believe it or not, I actually agree with this), would the addiction never happen if they were never exposed to the substance in question?

    If society does everything it can to prevent the substance from being available and consumed, including criminalization, then wouldn't the individual be culpable for the addiction since he/she acquired and used the substance on the first instance?

    Let me put forward two ideals:

    Ideal 1: All addictive substances are banned and are completely unavailable to the general public. Because of this, addictions to substances are completely eradicated in spite of genetic predispositions.

    Ideal 2: All addictive substances are declared legal, and predisposed individuals readily become addicts. Addicts are supplied with their substance of choice to keep them as functional as possible.
  22. Alan ODay from Ossoyoos B.C., Canada writes: Now that addiction is being accepted as a mental illness and mental illness of all varieties have proven to be treatable the time as come for the construction of a recovery based social movement to advocate for our common interests. For too long the addictions recovery movement has allowed the stigma of other of mental illness separate our voices.Whereas the more broad based mental illness recovery movement is also vulnerable to shying away from the stigma that surrounds addictions. It is a fact that we need to collectively address the funding inequalities that exist between mental and physical healthcare. However this is not a zero sum game and must beply seen in the context of the ongoing struggle of all Canadians to protect our healthcare system. This is not to assume that a unified recovery based movement nessasarily seeks to simply draw more resources from the public treasury. On the contrary Jurisdictions like the Fraser Health Authority and Interior Health have come recognize the money saving potential of a model that seeks to empower consumers as opposed to wharehousing patients. I want to congratulate The Globe And Mail for insigating this urgently needed discussion that I hope will enter into the public discourse as we approach election time.
  23. Johnn Baraka from Victoria, Canada writes: Craig Houston from sutton, Canada writes: There are organizations available for addicts to help them with their disease. A.A. gamblers anonymous, and narcotics anonymous are just 3 where an addict can go get help and provide help for the still struggling addict.
    _____________________

    Fact: Sixty percent of successful American recoveries are done outside of AA.

    As Bill Wilson said, 'there are many paths to recovery.' Just Google aa alternatives and find all the wonderful choices available to people looking to recover.

    There are secular groups in Canada like LifeRing Secular Recovery for people who are not comfortable with the religious foundation of twelve-step groups. LifeRing is a peer-supported self-help solution focused recovery program. No higher power, no steps, no sponsor and no guilt trip.
  24. David C from Canada writes:
    As one of my responsibilities I work part time in a Methadone Clinic. My opinion on the matter is this:

    There are some addicts out there whose addiction I would consider closer to a 'mental illness' than a behaviour. However, these are NOT the majority of patients.

    Most, through choice or circumstance, entered an addictive lifestyle which is very complex and difficult to escape from, for all the physical, psychological, and social reasons already covered.

    But the factors of genetic and physical pre-disposition, which are the basis for calling addiction a 'mental illness', in my opinion play a very small role in most people compared to other factors and pressures these patients face on a daily basis.

    It seems to me that we are attempting to swing the pendulum to the other side by labelling this as a medical disease, in order to overcome the many prejudices that exist in treating these patients.

    But how right is this, when, in my opinion and experience, IT JUST ISN'T THE REAL PROBLEM in a majority of addicts?

    I suspect that trying to rectify the situation with half-truths, we may just make it worse. Will our treatments now focus more on the biological therapies, when absolutely no recovery can be found until their social environments and abscence of coping skills are adressed? (for example)

    In a misguided attempt to help, we may just be sweeping the true issues under the rug even more.


    Then again, the pessimist in me thinks that this is just the way our society works today. I mean, half the people I know are on a cholesterol lowering pill, but FEW of them suffer from GENETIC hypercholesteremia. Their diets suck, and they aren't willing to change their lifestyle to rectify the problem. They take a pill instead.

    So if this philosophy is good enough for the rest of society, why not apply it to addicts too?
  25. Charlie Simmons from Dawson, Canada writes: Jung Frau, please tell us your PERSONAL battles with mental illness as a patient, rather than use conspiracy theories from an outsider's viewpoint. Otherwise what you say is 100% garbage unless you can back it up.
  26. Sergent Pepper from Canada writes: I think David C. has a point. I've heard it said that addiction to alcohol is a the main symptom of all the sadness a person feels, and addiction to nicotine, a symptom of deep-rooted anger. I don't know if things are as clear cut as this, but it rings true. From my own personal experience, I can say for certainty that anxiety feeds itself on addictions like caffeine and nicotine. I quit caffeine in 1993, and my anxiety attacks diminished considerably. A year later, I quit nicotine (I was a 2-pack-a-day smoker), and my anxiety attacks disappeared completely. I still experience on occasion the feeling of anxiety, but I can usually trace its root -- stress, a medication, a visit to the dentist -- and once I do, I can get work through the feeling and not let it overwhelm me. By the way, though I've never had a problem with alcohol, I know from observing others anxiety feeds itself on that, too.
  27. Elsa Al from Mississauga, Canada writes: It's so easy to judge the whole world, when lack of experience is shaping your perspective. The article is not based on not taking responsibility for addiction but understanding the multi-faceted components which influence the compulsive cycle. For those ignorant of this re: Jung Frau who appears to have no insight into the world of mental health, solely providing outlandish conspiracy theories when all else fails, save your breath for someone who cares. Perhaps take an opportunity to become better educated before sticking your nose in an issue you know little about.
  28. Elsa Al from Mississauga, Canada writes: haha and quit being schizophrenic? you are an idiot.
  29. Jung Frau from Switzerland writes: I have spent the last six years helping my son to overcome his illness. I have seen him through two hospitalizations and a two year outpatient day program, to which the family was invited every two weeks. I have spent more time with psychiatrists than I care to repeat. I have spent huge amounts of my personal time and money looking for remedies that work. I have done lots of reading and I don't only read the books of people that I agree with. When I started to listen to the critics of the current psychiatric approach, I began to realize that while the message seemed harsh, it was right. Sergent Pepper - The seven year old is the innocent. He is taking on the burden of the previous generation. Until he/you comes to grips with the past (even though you played no part of it), the anxiety will continue. This kind of thinking is contrary to our Western, fact based approach. It is the magical belief system that is working here. Please read up on Bert Hellinger and google Dr Dietrich Klinghardt. Take a look at the theory behind his healing pyramid.
    Thanks, David C. I think you are right on that more attention should be paid to the environment and developing better coping skills.
  30. Sergent Pepper from Canada writes: Yung Frau, like other commentators, I have a problem with your approach. Which is, basically, that you're telling everyone that your way, and your way alone, is the right one. I am happy you've found something that has worked for your son and your family. But what is troubling is how dismissive you are of every other approach. You're also telling us, as Elsa points out, that you can just quit being schizophrenic. AND that somehow there is a magic cure the Swiss have discovered the rest of the world hasn't: if it was truly magic, surely, it would have made its way to North America by now? Regarding your comment about 'coming to grips with my past', that of my ancestors, I can only smile. If only you knew...
  31. Jung Frau from Switzerland writes: Sergent Pepper, I fail to see that I have said there is one way only. I said I have tried many approaches. I discarded the ones that didn't work, after trying them. Everybody knows that mental illness does not have one definitive source, but most people overlook the obvious family link. Everybody's family is different and their stories are different. The source of the conflict will be different, but that doesn't mean the remedies will be that different. I am simply interested in cure. If a therapy works, shouldn't other people know about it? Unfortunately, some people can't take that leap of faith to get well. They prefer to remain patients. Why knock something you haven't tried?
  32. Sergent Pepper from Canada writes: Jung Frau, based on your postings, you have one experience, one experience alone with mental illness: that of your son's. Yet you feel qualified to say to people whose lives, personalities and struggles with mental illness you know nothing about that 'Until he/you comes to grips with the past (even though you played no part of it), the anxiety will continue.” How do you know where I or anyone else is at? As it turns out, I have done a huge amount of work regarding my ancestry, and much more: yet although anxiety does not control my life anymore, I still have to struggle with it at times, especially when I’m stressed. That is the reality: so please don’t tell me that “Unfortunately, some people can't take that leap of faith to get well. They prefer to remain patients.” Who are you to judge? You also say, “I do not agree that mental illness is not curable. That, to me, is a myth perpetuated by those whose livelihood lies in perpetuating the myth of mental illness. Mental illness is a deep rooted problem in dealing with life. It is not a brain disease as most would have us believe.” If you think psychiatrists and other mental health workers are there only for the money, what about Bert Hellinger and Dr Dietrich Klinghardt: don’t they stand to gain money from their books and theories? Shouldn’t we be sceptical about them, too? Let me assure you that there are plenty of people working in the mental health sector who are as dedicated and as committed as the men you mention seem to be. I don’t at all disagree we have to beware of pharmaceutical and other health industries. All I’m saying is that you just can’t lump everyone the way you do – Hellinger and Klinghardt, good; all others, bad.
  33. Cousin Voltaire from Canada writes: As I mentioned earlier this week, I worked for over ten years with a psychiatrist who refuses to treat depression and anxiety with medication. Obviously, there are psychiatrists out there who have extensive medical training, yet still choose the hollistic approach. Others use a combination of medication and therapy, with a strong emphasis on the therapy and a commitment to eliminate the drugs as soon as possible.
  34. Jung Frau from Switzerland writes: Sergent - Bert Hellinger, Dr Klinghardt and others have offered a solution, which the mental health field in general fails to provide. My son's holistic psychiatrist has offered a solution, which I don't see in the mental health field in general. The mainstream mental health field offers 'managed recovery'. I translate 'managed recovery' as life long drug dependency and a sub-optimal living experience. Are you aware of the theories of anxiety and a misaligned assemblage point? Realigning an assemblage point is cheap and the theory behind it is compellling. You won't find that kind of information in a managed recovery program. At the end of the day, not everybody wants to get well because they won't do what it takes to get well. When I began, I trusted the doctors, until I realized that it was a mistake. I began to read anecdotal reports that doctors had noticed that the people who got well were often the patients and their families who fought with them the most and did not subscribe to the program they offered. I thought 'I can do that. If that's what it takes, I'll do critical.' Then I began to notice that when I met others who recovered completely, they had adopted the same critical approach. The doctoryourself.com website says, 'If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. This especially includes your health care.' I don't care if you don't agree with what I am saying. Somebody else out there check out these references and use it to help heal themselves.
  35. Elsa Al from Mississauga, Canada writes: Maybe you watched your son deal with schizophrenia, but your lack of personal experience into the world of mental health appears to have limited you conception about a 'cure'. There is no cure for mental health, only appropriate strategies to live in harmony with it. It's a gift and a curse, one that you will never understand.
  36. Jung Frau from Switzerland writes: Cousin Voltaire - You are probably describing what Thomas Szasz calls a 'contractual psychiatrist', meaning someone of your own choosing who is not affiliated with an institution of the state. The other kind of psychiatrist he refers to as an 'institutional psychiatrist' and that's where most of the problems lie because mandatory drug dispensing is part of the deal. Institutional psychiatrists believe in drugs. The pharmaceutical companies contribute large sums of money to the institutions and help fund their research projects and new buildings. You will not find a psychiatrist employed very long in an institution if he steps outside the norm.
  37. Mr. S. from Canada writes: So let me get this straight. 'Contractual psychiatrists', good, maybe? All 'institutional psychiatrists', still a very bad lot. In what group do the psychologists and the therapists and the psychotherapists belong? Should we be suspicious of them too? Even though some of them do excellent work? On this score, I'd like to share the title of a book written by Dr. Susan Roos: Chronic Sorrow, A Living Loss. This book is written for those who experience years and years of grief due to a loved one being chronically ill (more specifically, for the parents of children with mental disabilities). Chronic sorrow, by the way, 'is about living with unremovable loss and inmending wounds.' Dr. Roos is a psychotherapist, and the mother of a child with autism.
  38. Jung Frau from Switzerland writes: 'In what group do the psychologists and the therapists and the psychotherapists belong?' Answer: They belong to a better group because they try to have a client centered approach and do not dispense drugs.
  39. Mr. S. from Canada writes: The reason therapists, psychologists and psychotherapists don't dispense drugs is because they cannot: one needs a medical degree to do so. As for having a more client-centered approach, some do, some don't. Moreover, their fees are often prohibitive, especially for those who need frequent counselling for long periods of time, as when struggling with major depression. So there are problems there, too. I agree that far too many drug prescriptions are being handed out. I also agree that there is much in our health care system that is not working and that needs a complete overhaul. This said, I’d like to acknowledge the fact that there are trained, dedicated professionals everywhere, and not just in this or that group, who achieve excellent results. I also want to suggest that in some cases, medication is a must. I’ve watched my father consistently turn down medication both for him and for my mother (she was no longer able to make decisions for herself.) Where others with similar ailments were doing well, or better, on medication, his drug-free approach worsened their respective health problems and increased their suffering, both physical and mental. The goal, I think, should be to achieve a right balance.
  40. J Lyn from West Coast, Canada writes: Well getting back to the article...it explains to me why my happy beautiful daughter-in-law went from giving birth to her precious much loved son, to post-partum depression, to a heroin addict living on the streets.
    He's 5 now and she never sees him anymore and it breaks my heart when he tells me 'Grandma, did you know that I miss my mom?' Yes, she might have had a choice at the beginning but as time goes by, she needs the drugs to just survive one more day.
    I kept hoping she would get really ill and be hospitalized and that would save her. Well, it didn't and slowly she went back to living on the streets again, where she isn't judged by her peers.
    I am going to keep this article for my grandson to read when he gets old enough. I know his mother will be gone by then but he needs to understand that she did just leave him. She loved him very much but the drugs that kept her alive everyday, are what killed her in the end.
    Sign me,
    A very sad Grandmother
  41. J Lyn from West Coast, Canada writes: Oops....spelling mistake.

    My grandson needs to understand that she DIDN'T just leave him....
  42. Laura Dover from Calgary, Canada writes: I read an article about heroin addiction in the Vietnam war. Apparently, for the majority of the addicts, the addiction disappeared when they returned to the States. It is very helpful to have a change of environment. When a person becomes addicted, their physiological state attempts to maintain an equilibrium. When they take the drug, it has certain affects on their physiology; for example, it might have a euphoric effect. Now, the body recognizes the environment in which this occurs, and when it finds itself in this environment, some manner of depression occurs in order to prepare for the drug (withdrawal). Now, in order to have the same euphoric effect, the person needs to take more drugs. Game on. And it is very difficult to not take the drugs, because you are stuck an undesirable state created in the body to prepare for the drug. This is why people tend to OD when shooting up in an unusual location. In a different environment, their body is not prepared for the dose that they think they need. Anyway, leaving Vietnam cured a lot of vets. Just an idea on a drug-free escape from addiction. I, like many people above, really prefer the idea of a drug-free solution, when possible. (And what about all the addictions to pharmaceutical drugs that will be created? Will they be labelled diseases as well? Will we need a new drug to treat them too?)
  43. Jenny Biggar from toronto, Canada writes: addiction is caused by medical authority, unemployment, poor education, and alternative medicine.

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