Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy issued the following statement regarding National Addictions Awareness Week (NAAW), Nov. 12-18, 2017:
“One in five British Columbians, from all walks of life, will be affected by a mental-health or substance-use problem this year. This could be our neighbours, our co-workers, our dearest friends, our parents, our children and even ourselves.
“In our province, we have watched the overdose crisis unfold in many unpredictable ways and we have seen its devastation up close with the tragic loss of over 1,100 lives this year. The immensity of that kind of grief cannot be overstated and the greatest tragedy in this is that so many of these deaths could have been prevented.
“But, addiction isn’t about the obvious that we see before us. There are many types of behavioural addictions, including gambling, food, shopping, work and alcohol and drugs. All of these have significant effects and all have a common thread – a person’s intense focus on using something, or repeating certain behaviour, to the point that it significantly impacts their life. This could happen to any of us, at any time.
“This year, NAAW's theme is ‘Words Matter,’ and focuses on stigmatizing language and the role it plays in preventing people from seeking help or sustaining recovery. There is no question that words matter. They can create stigma, which can be the difference between someone seeking help or continuing their addiction alone and in silence. It's important to recognize the negative and pervasive influence of stigma. Attached to it are words that have no boundaries – words that result in the shame, guilt and fear that prevent people from seeking the help they so desperately need.
“As we think about those affected by this complex health condition, I encourage all British Columbians to adopt language that will help end stigma – a language of acceptance, encouragement, understanding, and respect – because people living with addiction deserve the same dignity and care as people suffering from physical illnesses.
“Remember, the words we use matter and they can become a gateway to hope and recovery for someone who is struggling in silence.”