Guy Felicella: Treating addiction means treating trauma

published on April 7, 2021 by Guy Felicella in Vancouver Sun

According to Statistics Canada, an estimated six million Canadians will meet the criteria for a substance use disorder at some point in their lifetime. Many of those people will never receive the treatment they need, which means our health-care system is failing a fifth of our population on this single health issue.

I’m one of those six million people. I’ve seen the treatment system from the inside as someone who, for more than two decades, was addicted to drugs. I also worked in treatment for years. No matter what kind of treatment I was offered or forced into, it failed. I stopped using while in a treatment facility and started using again pretty much the moment I walked out the doors. I saw the same happen for countless others.

For me, this pattern repeated itself time and again over the years — 15 times I went into treatment, and 14 times I left and relapsed. Mine is not an unusual case. Addiction is a chronic relapsing condition, meaning treatment will fail people more often than not. And yet when treatment fails, we blame the individual, not the treatment itself. Substance use is the only health issue that we view in this backwards way…

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