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Addicts lie: Rob Ford and the future of Toronto

“I’m just so sad,” my mom told me, when she learned Toronto Police Services Chief Bill Blair told reporters he had seen video of the mayor smoking crack cocaine. “It’s just…sad.

It is sad. It’s sad that my partner has to wonder about his mayor screaming in his face and shoving him the way he does other journalists, when the mayor bothers to show up for work — though he apparently has no issue showing up drunk at two a.m. with “unidentified females” who were almost certainly not his wife, the woman who he was charged with assaulting in 2008. It’s sad that our mayor vouchsafed a man who was convicted of threatening to kill a woman, and then employed him as a driver, fixer, and possibly as a drug dealer. It’s sad that the murder of Ford’s friend Anthony Smith is still unsolved. It’s sad that Ford made executive decisions and shaped municipal policy to the tune of $900 million in cost overruns, while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both. Those are all sad things.

But that’s not what my mother finds so saddening. Not really. It’s something else entirely.

“Are you feeling badly because we’ve lost people to addiction?” I asked. “Is it because we’ve heard all of this before, and it’s pushing some buttons?”

There was a pause. “Yeah,” she said heavily. “That’s part of it.”

There’s addiction on both sides of my family. One person made it. The other didn’t. One of my uncles is alive because he got clean. One of my aunts is dead because she didn’t. She promised she would, of course. She told us she would, after she showed up drunk to my First Communion. (The irony of that particular coincidence does not fail to escape me.) She told her kids she would. She watched as they searched her apartments for stashes, and cried as they poured the bottles down the toilet. She’d worked in hospitals. She knew the consequences of her disease. She knew them at her intervention. She knew them when she entered the hospital, yellow and swollen with liver failure. She knew them at the moment of her death. In her case, knowledge was no longer power. All the facts were just more reasons to drink: she was a queer woman in a straight society; she’d been sent away to have her first child in high school and had to give her up; she was the victim of multiple rapes. Alcoholism was the clinical cause of death, but silence and shame and the closet all had their turns, first.

I miss her. I miss her every day. I’d be dead without her — she’s the one who introduced my parents. When she functioned more highly, hid her sadness and her sickness more effectively, she babysat me on a regular basis. She’s the one who urged my mother to take me to an orthopedist, because my spine didn’t look straight. (It wasn’t.) She gave me toys for long car trips down to Los Angeles, and proudly introduced me to all her co-workers. She’s the first person I remember asking me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I was the bargaining chip in her intervention: if she didn’t quit, she couldn’t see me any longer. She didn’t quit. Within the year, she was dead. Her mother, brain riddled with Alzheimer’s, did not understand whose funeral she was attending. “But why isn’t my daughter here?” she asked her caregivers. “Why doesn’t she come see me?”

Most of the time it’s a dimly-remembered tragedy from my childhood. Nothing compared to the loss my cousins experienced. Other times, like when I watched A Scanner Darkly for the first time, I cry myself hoarse. Because when you love an addict, their powerlessness becomes your powerlessness. They cannot stop themselves, and you cannot stop them. Nothing, no sacrifice, no indictment, no threat or promise or bargain, can withstand the centrifugal forces of addiction’s churning vortex. You come to realize that the person you love is actually two people: the person they are alone with the bottle, and the person they try to be when they’re with you. I miss the person my aunt tried to be. The person she could have been, if she’d felt the freedom to be her authentic self and tell the truth about her experiences, and the courage to make herself vulnerable to the process of recovery. She was great. That person was great. That person was the best.

I suspect the person Mayor Ford tries to be is also great. His supporters certainly seem to think so. I’m not one of them, because I was educated to smell sophistry from a mile away and know populism when I see it. I doubt I’d agree with him even if he were sober, though I suspect he’d make coherent arguments and better decisions with sobriety on his side. But this afternoon when I listened to Ford make apology after apology on his radio show, I heard the refrain of addiction: “I’m sorry.” “It’s all my fault.”  “I just have to cut down.” “Don’t call my brother an enabler.” “I’m not a crack addict. I’m not an addict of any type of drug.” “I don’t know what more I can say.”

What the city of Toronto may not understand collectively is that addicts lie. Of all the losses that surround them, the loss of trust is one of the biggest. Whether that lie is I’m doing just fine or I don’t have a problem or even I’m looking for work, it’s still a lie when it’s told under the influence. Because it’s told not in the service of truth, but in the service of preserving the status quo — the addiction. When you look at Ford’s record, at his dishonesty and his bluster and his refusal to take responsibility for his behaviour up until this moment, it fits a pattern familiar to families of addicts. Well, that and the absenteeism, sleepiness, paranoia, social anxiety, and confabulations. But hey, don’t take my word for it. Learn from the the people who survived it:

In the beginning of my drinking career, I still had denial about my ability to control my drinking. I held on to the illusion that if I really wanted to, someday, I could drink like a normal person and enjoy my liquor without going overboard. I did not yet suspect that I was a genuine alcoholic….at least not in the early days.

As the years went on, I came to realize the true nature of my condition. This is something that I had to admit on my own, and to myself. When others tried to diagnose me, I would not listen. I finally came to see what I really was through my own experiences. I realized that I was beaten; that alcohol had defeated me, and that I was its slave. I knew that I was down for the count. I fully admitted to myself and to others how hopeless my condition had become. Other people could not convince me of my problem.

But understand that this was still denial. Drinking remained my solution. I was at a point where I would readily admit to being alcoholic, but was not yet willing to do anything about it. I continued to drink for some time after that, until I finally accepted my disease.

Accepting alcoholism or drug addiction means that you are willing to do something about it.

“Doing something” is not getting on the radio and apologizing to constituents. That’s from the “grand romantic gesture” political playbook, the one where you buy some flowers and hold up a boombox and tell people how very sorry you are — but not what you’re sorry for. “Doing something” isn’t, as the mayor’s brother suggested, drinking alone in the basement so family and friends and voters won’t have to feel a prickle of embarassment. It isn’t pretending to conduct business as usual. It’s not pleading with reporters to stop doing their job, or making excuses for one-minute press appearances that last as long as it takes to hiss the words “You had your chance,” and walk away, back stiff and fingers twitching because it’s the middle of the day and the DTs are about to start.

Doing something means doing something. It means taking action. It means taking control. It means, quite literally, re-wiring the pre-frontal cortex. It means making sacrifices. It means bidding farewell to your drinking buddies. It means leaving behind your old stomping grounds. It means divorcing your spouse, sometimes. It means losing custody, sometimes. It means making meetings and going to hospitals and finding a sponsor and pleading with your family not to have so much goddamn beer at their goddamn barbecue because Jesus, I’m hanging by a thread here, can’t you see that?

It means entering recovery and being honest about why you have to “cut down,” rather than stop drinking entirely. It means explaining the medical reasons why “it’s unrealistic to expect that I’ll never take another drink again.” Namely, the grand mal seizures that accompany severe alcohol withdrawal. The possibility of heart attack and death. It means entering a hospital or treatment centre and accepting help, so you don’t die alone trying to be a hero.

Addiction is not about heroes or villians. It is not a moral issue. I think the mayor has made several immoral decisions, the extent of which we will only learn in the coming days. But mostly, I think the moral calculus to be made in addiction is whether or not you want to save your own life, or whether you want to leave behind the people who love you. When Irvine Welsh talks about it as “choosing life,” he’s not wrong. It’s literally a choice between life and death. But in this case, the mayor isn’t just choosing for himself — he’s choosing for Toronto. His powerlessness has become Toronto’s powerlessness. It’s not just his career that could end, but Toronto’s economy. It’s not just his car he might wrap around a tree, but our services. Our flu shots. Our schools. Our community.

Choose life, Mayor Ford. Choose the life of this city. It’s a good life. It’s a good city. And you can be a good man, if you want to. But you have to be an honest one, first.

50 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. A remarkable essay that speaks to the truth. Addicts lie.

  2. This is fantastic. Harrowing, wise, and, yes, sobering. Thank you for writing this.

  3. Tori Brown

     /  November 4, 2013

    Amazing. Thank you.

  4. Beautifully written, and rings so true.

  5. Maggie

     /  November 4, 2013

    This has been my thoughts but you express them so well. Like you, I know about addiction. I won’t say I would like the man if he went for help. But it would give him a chance to live.

  6. Janet

     /  November 4, 2013

    I often think there are some people we can’t expect to live their lives sober, and what you said about your aunt reminded me of this. Some experiences make a lifetime of self – medicating seem like the only logical choice. I’ve known an alchoholic who has lived through things as a child that would have caused me to end my life. But she is still here. Sort of. Part of her is here. And that part takes a huge toll on the people who care for her.

    Who knows why the mayor is in a death grip with booze and crack? Surely there is some explanation to be found in his family. A reason, not an excuse.

    Although it hardly matters any more, it might let us extend a little compassion when it seems so hard to come by lately. What matters is what is going on with him and his current family. Not just the safety of his family, particularly if he is now restricting all his drinking to the basement. But what the futures of his children might be. I feel like their script has already been written. Hopefully some changes from the mayor will mean positive changes for his family in the future.

  7. Susan

     /  November 4, 2013

    This is it – tough love. Just what the good doctor ordered.

  8. siiix Siiix

     /  November 4, 2013

    a bit overboard, does any know anyone who died from substance abuse, and not just make up bull stories ? because i’m 46 just about ALL my friends use one or an other drug, and in all my life i never known a single person that died, yet this stories make it appear as drugs and alcohol kill every single person… no they just make you irresponsible, and sometimes an asshole, you lose motivation and energy. i know an addict when i see one, i even dated some, rob ford is not an addict, he is a user, and he should not be partying while he has such big responsibilities … it is probably also a personality thing… he just likes to get fucked up.. there is nothing “sad” about this… a party animal should not be mayor … if he refused to give up hes party habits for the duration of hes term, then he has to go, there is no bullshit rehab or apology needed, nor any symphaty… as simple as that

    • Rick

       /  November 4, 2013

      My father died an alcoholic. Can’t say he died of alcoholism, can certainly say it was a factor in his death. Just because it hasn’t affected you personally, look a little harder and widen your vision, you may realize it’s a bigger, “sadder” problem than you’re willing to admit to.

    • Alecta

       /  November 4, 2013

      I lost a friend to alcoholism, and he took an innocent with him.
      People die every day of substance abuse: Heath Ledger, Jim Morrison, Judy Garland, Amy Winehouse, Anna Nicole Smith, Billy Holiday, Jimi Hendrix, Chris Farley, Cory Monteith, Jack Kerouak, Michael Jackson… On and on. And these are just the really big names I could come up with on the spot. Drugs kill, directly or indirectly. If you don’t overdose, they cause your organs to stop working, or fall apart.

    • Nicole

       /  November 4, 2013

      I did volunteer work with crack addicts in Parkdale, not ‘all’ of them made it out alive.

      Many of the addicts I got to know were at one time professional people just like Ford. There was a former social worker, a couple of office administrators/office assistants, travel agent, business owner etc. As much as people liked to believe that all crack addicts are from broken dysfunctional homes, I assure you the truth doesn’t bare this out. The addicts that fared worse were those who went on drug and alcohol binges, like I suspect Ford does. It is harder on the respiratory and cardio vascular system. A few of the binge addicts I knew died of strokes. Totally preventable.

      Addiction to a substance is far different from casual use.It sounds to me that you have never known a full blown addict. Rob Ford is not a casual user – the discarded vodka bottles tell the story. This will kill Ford if he doesn’t get help. Look at the man. Do you think he is healthy? Does he look healthy to you? I suspect he already suffers from hypertension, and no doubt high cholesterol. Hypertension, high blood pressure, coupled with alcohol and possibly crack cocaine (nervous system stimulant) use is a deadly combination.

      I suspect you are a Ford supporter, that is your choice. But if you truly care about Ford, you will write, phone or email and urge him to get the help he so desperately needs.

    • NB

       /  November 5, 2013

      Known many.
      My grandfather drank himself to death (liver failure) by the time he was 40 or so, as did my cousin. My brother took his life – alcohol played a big role in that.
      I used to work as a Chaplain in Toronto hospitals, and also with street folks. Sorry to say, but there is nothing even unusual about people dying from their addictions, either directly from an instant overdose, or from the gradual destruction of vital organs, or from suicide and violence directly related to addiction.
      Maybe you’re just very lucky that you haven’t encountered the real effects of real addiction, or maybe you aren’t looking quite hard enough. For sure, the vast majority of addicts won’t actually die from their abuse, but they wreak a swathe of destruction in their own lives, in their relationships, and in their professional lives. It’s just a whole lot of suffering, and Rob Ford is inflicting his personal suffering on an entire city. And he has an entire ‘Nation’ of enablers.

    • Daniela

       /  November 5, 2013

      My 23 year old partner died from acute pancreatitis caused directly by alcoholism, and he drank for four to five years, tops. It happens, and it fucking sucks when it does.

    • B.V

       /  November 6, 2013

      My father was an alcoholic with a very serious problem, which he refused to give up despite continued love, support and forgiveness from everyone around him. It cost him his marriage, his children, countless jobs, and several trips to jail. At one point he was drunk in public, fell in the street and broke his leg. While in the hospital, he was told by doctors that if he did not stop with this behavior, it would cost him his life. He suffered from liver failure and was dead of a massive coronary a month later. A man who was once a brilliant mathematician and businessman, died alone, sitting in his own shit in a basement apartment. Horribly. A part of me, the part that wanted one more chance to forgive him for all of the havoc he wreaked on our family, died that day as well. He never lived to see my brother grow up to become the responsible man his father could not be. Never lived to see his granddaughter born. Alcohol, and denial was always more important to him. So yes, addictions do cost lives. People do die, and they leave a legacy of pain and sadness among those left living.

    • Cgrl

       /  November 8, 2013

      My father died from liver disease in his 50’s due to life long alcoholism. My step brother killed himself and alcohol played a major role in his depression. I have lost several friends in impaired driving accidents and one to a drug overdose. Your post is so ignorant. Your assessment of what makes Mayor Ford NOT an addict makes me ask if perhaps you could be an addict yourself, so you’ve normalized his alcohol and drug usage. Just wondering.

  9. diane tilley

     /  November 4, 2013

    Beautifully written. You hit the nail on the head. Thank you.

  10. Robert

     /  November 4, 2013

    As a recovering alcoholic, with 23 years of sobriety, I have watched and listened to this Rob Ford tragedy with more than a passing interest. Indeed, everything he says and does screams “denial” I am afraid his end will come prematurely and in a grand fashion. Some people never get it. They are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. For the sake of Toronto I hope he has a moment of clarity and asks for help.

    • Helen

       /  November 4, 2013

      What does “constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves” mean?

      • Matt

         /  November 4, 2013

        Helen, it is part of “How It Works” in the Twelve Steps: “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.”

        Sobriety requires rigorous honesty, is the sentiment.

      • Duncan

         /  November 5, 2013

        To my mind, in practical terms it means Ford is going to drink himself to death.

  11. frances edmonds

     /  November 4, 2013

    Thank you for this truthfull & thoughtful piece. I’m wondering how the citizens of Tortonto can get back to dealing with the conjestion & pressing issues for our city and let Mr Ford deal with his demons.

  12. I wonder, with Rob’s privileged upbringing, if he wasn’t made to take responsibility for his actions. I wonder if his parents and other family members in authority fussed and just made things go away, and that’s why Rob Ford isn’t coming clean, literally and figuratively.

  13. Corey

     /  November 4, 2013

    I can smell bias from a mile away. I am in recovery from an addiction that nearly killed me and took away huge parts of my life that I will never get back. I have also lost family and friends to addiction yet I still don’t proclaim to have the power to diagnose alcoholism and or addiction. Especially in someone that you nor I observe for more than minutes a day in news bites and public functions. Your witnessing DT’s due to a straight back and twitching fingers? Shame on you. I hate his politics too, but lets do a self check here. Would you be writing this essay if you were more politically aligned with him, or if your husband wasn’t a reporter? Using your personal stories of loss and cut and pasting quotes from AA literature is a sad attempt to forward your opinion.

    • Madeline

       /  November 4, 2013

      He’s not my husband. (Fingers crossed, though.)

      And it’s true, I might be more forgiving if I agreed with his politics. I suspect that’s why the people of Ford Nation have been so forgiving. That’s a big part of this picture that I’m not personally or politically a part of, but that doesn’t make it invalid. They just have a different set of values than I do. And that’s okay.

      And you’re right, I don’t know the exact status of the mayor’s health. No one does. I suspect even he doesn’t. He certainly hasn’t been very open about it, in the same way that he’s not very open about anything. None of his scandals would be of the size and scope they are if he were.

      But I think one of the problems here is how we as a city, province, and even a country deal with the problem of alcoholism. Doug Ford telling his brother to drink alone in the basement is not a real strategy for getting well. It’s a way to shame his brother, further perpetuating the shame spiral that creates unhealthy behaviour. If you didn’t already know, Canadians drink over 50% above the global average: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/04/statistics-of-alcohol_n_2806184.html That’s a real problem, and it’s one Canada has yet to deal with. And I happen to think that the Ford family shoving their own problems under the rug is doing a long-term disservice to other people who might otherwise be encouraged to seek help, if the leaders they identified with had the courage to do it, too. Think about all the folks in Ford Nation who are struggling with addiction. Think about how they might choose to go it alone, after listening to the mayor. Bias or no, that just makes me sad.

  14. Passionate article. Instead of making fun of, of saying horrid words, you use understanding. I hope Rob Ford reads this.

  15. Corey

     /  November 4, 2013

    Thank you for the reply. I’ve been sober for a year now, and my physical appearance is still being observed and critiqued by some as they assess my sobriety. Years of lies haven’t been forgotten I guess. My sensitivity about this showed through in my previous comment as well as my tweet. I may not agree with the blog but I don’t wish to attack it. Your good will shows through.

    • Madeline

       /  November 4, 2013

      Corey, that’s really cool of you to say. Thank you very much. I wish you the best of luck in your recovery.

  16. Melissa

     /  November 4, 2013

    I tried to message you using your contact page, but I don’t have a website so couldn’t. Lots I could say about why your article spoke to me, but I’ll stick with “thanks”. You wrote what was in my heart.

  17. Kevin R

     /  November 4, 2013

    Well written. Hope people read it. Lost 3 close friends (in one family) to Alcoholism in less than a year. So sad.

  18. Deb

     /  November 4, 2013

    Very thought provoking article. And sad. As your mother said, just so sad.

    My maternal family is riddled with addicts–alcohol, drugs, gambling. And I agree, there is nothing worse than the loss of trust that requires you to distance yourself from people you love to protect yourself emotionally, and sometimes, financially. Unfortunately, it seems Toronto can’t distance itself from RF…he refuses to go away quietly and deal with whatever it is he professed to be apologetic about, which leaves Toronto in a bad spot. Now the city as a whole is his–willing or no–enabler; what a tragic legacy, for RF, and the city of Toronto.

  19. A Beausoleil

     /  November 4, 2013

    the language this woman uses about drug users is appalling and oppressive. Clean, addicts- all labels that oppress drug users.”All addicts are liars”, so so gross. This article only furthers the stigma and shame people feel as drug users. SOOOO judgmental. Old Robo is a privileged white male who has been handed everything in life. It has been my experience that people who lie the most are people in power, people of privilege, politicians and the media.

    • Madeline

       /  November 4, 2013

      That’s a good point. Ford is incredibly privileged, and I think that contributes to his dishonesty. Or at least, it helps create a cover for it.

      And I don’t want you to think that I believe all addicts are liars. I think that habitual lying is a side effect and symptom of addiction. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one. The people I know who have gotten clean (and I know a lot of them, and I’m proud of that fact and happy they’re alive) are actually pretty honest people — painfully so, sometimes, because recovery has brought them to a place where they can be radically open with others. Recovery involves discovering a lot of hard truths about yourself, and AA and other programs involve speaking those truths, over and over. It becomes a habit in and of itself, that counteracts the lying. I don’t think of these things as essential characteristics, I think of them as habits within different phases of life.

    • B.V

       /  November 6, 2013

      I understand that you may take issue with stigmatizing recovering addicts, and yes, everyone deserves multiple chances at redemption and rehabilitation. However, because of my first hand experience, I consequently have a difficult time finding compassion for someone who consistently and constantly denies having a problem. My family paid a very, very heavy price for my father’s alcoholism, and he went to his grave in denial, continually blaming others around him. This was a man who had every opportunity in life, two wonderful children, and a wife and parents who supported and encouraged him in every way. He lied to my mother about his extramarital affairs, lied to us every time his drinking cost him a job, lied about seeking help, lied about all the bottles stashed up under the heating vents in the basement, lied to us EVERY TIME HE TOLD US THAT HIS DRINKING WAS OUR FAULT AND NOT HIS (and that chestnut came up often, how two small children can drive someone to drink is beyond me) , lied to us every time he was “sorry” that he tore us out of bed in one of his drunken rampages so that we had to flee for our lives in the middle of the night and sleep in the back of a car, lied to us every time he physically abused myself or my mother and told us that we deserved it, lied to his OWN PARENTS when he stole tens of thousands of dollars from them to maintain his habit, lied to us when he told us that he “wasn’t drunk driving” and that “we’d better not get out of the car unless we knew what was good for us”…the list goes on and on. I don’t want to shame, judge or make anyone here in recovery feel bad, but there is often a sense of ongoing defensiveness among many individuals in recovery. I understand that understanding is important, and I applaud and respect those who are able to stop the cycle of substance abuse in their lives. But I find we tend to often focus more on the needs and progress of the addict, rather than those family members who who have suffered because of the addicts’ behavior. I survived my childhood at the hands of a brutal, selfish, cruel man without the need for coddling and counseling because I am strong, and I CHOOSE not to be a victim. Yes, we all make mistakes. Some of us, greater mistakes than others. And you HAVE to live with those mistakes. And while you may seek forgiveness, and those victims of your behavior may be willing to try to forgive, there are simply just some things…that cannot be forgiven. And that is the price one must pay.

  20. susan

     /  November 4, 2013

    Yes addicts lie. However,what the addict says they honestly believe is the truth. Sadly they are powerless to see that truth until they hit that bottom we hear so much about and every addict I have known has had a different bottom. Ford ,has his brother to enable him a wife who may be co dependent he is surrounded by love ones who feed into the lie making it more believable for him. He is on a downward spiral but that spiral is not so tight and no where near the bottom yet its going to be a hard and long ride I think.Hopefully Toronto will survive Ford and be better for it.And yes I share that sadness.

  21. S. Ramsey

     /  November 4, 2013

    I have to agree with A. Beausoleil. I didn’t find this to be particularly sympathetic; rather, I found it to be over-generalized and oppressive. I find the whole tone of this article strangely acrimonious. To me, it’s entirely contradictory to make statements like “all addicts are liars” while trying to sound concerned. I’m no fan of Rob Ford but these types of generalizations simply add to the stereotypes of users.

    • Madeline

       /  November 4, 2013

      That’s something I’m going to have to think about. Thank you.

  22. A Beausoleil

     /  November 4, 2013

    but just think for a moment about your language. No one wants to be called “dirty”, in the hopes to get “clean” . And what if they fuck up and “relapse” just how dirty and shameful that person can feel, added to the other stigmas that are associated to being a person who uses drugs. The language used in this article is very damaging. Using drugs should not been seen a bad or good thing, but an act societies have done since the beginning of time, for several reasons, exploration, escape , self medication, recreational etc. I encourage you to explore issues associated with drug use, drug users and the global damage of the war on drugs. I think you might reevaluated how you choose to speak about people who use drugs, hopefully without labels.

    • Madeline

       /  November 4, 2013

      You’re right, that’s an unfortunate quirk of my language. I learnt it from someone who was in NA. It was her way of verbalizing her experience, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m free to adopt it in my own writing and speech.

  23. A Beausoleil

     /  November 4, 2013

    And if you are interested in learning more about drug users, I’d be happy to facilitate an introduction to harm reduction and programs that best meet the needs of drug users in Toronto. Sadly is it a community that Rob Ford has not treated with compassion and has done his best to cut program funds and community. I am sincere with my offer.

    • Madeline

       /  November 5, 2013

      Actually, I really would be interested. I know he’s shown a lot of contempt for step-down programs for alcoholism, which to my mind is an especially tragic irony at the moment. I’m less informed of his record on drugs and drug users and treatment methods.

  24. Janet

     /  November 4, 2013

    I have known about the lies of adults with addictive behavior since I became the responsible child for 2 siblings, well before my parents separated.
    I have known that addicts lie since then….I am approaching 60.
    The most painful thing is the lies. I cannot deal with the sadness.
    The best thing that Mayor Ford could do is get off the stage. The whole world knows and so does your wife.
    The children, your children, will not be able to forget.
    An I am sorry will not work for them, their children, or the family’s story.
    You will stand alone and be appalled that you were that self-centered.
    Toronto needs to ask him to leave to save his life. Look at him, This is not a show. He needs help, he is not entertainment.

  25. Having lived with and loved addicts since childhood, I’ll always remember what a many-decades sober addict once told me: “Addicts lie, cheat, steal and manipulate–and those are only some of my good points.”

  26. Katharine

     /  November 5, 2013

    An honest, insightful – and very sad – description of addiction as I experienced it. As you wrote so movingly about your aunt’s struggles “…finding the courage to make (oneself) vulnerable to the process of recovery,” is the first step for some of us. Thank you for finding the words I couldn’t; I will share them with my children.

  27. Beautifully written.
    My family had experiences with addition and drug abuse as well. As a result I have one brother murdered, one brother on disability. It destroys a family, friends and the ability to work. Decisions become fogged by the need for a fix/drink/toke. Selling drugs becomes a good option to support the expense of the addiction.
    I have no faith that Ford can stay on the wagon, any wagon.
    His brother was complaining about the police chief’s fishing buddy this morning, and says he should step down.
    That’s a bit rich, eh?

  28. NB

     /  November 5, 2013

    Great article. Thanks for this Madeleine. To me, this *is* the problem at the heart of what’s happening to Rob Ford, and to our city. ‘Ford Nation’ are enablers, and it’s taking the entire city and the Chief of Police to intervene. When will it end?

  29. Anne

     /  November 5, 2013

    One would be hard-pressed to write with more clarity. Thank you so much.
    I, too, have known the world of addiction, being on the other end of someone else’s (a number of folks in my family)… and finding- being blessed with- recovery. Unfortunately, the disease knows no bounds. Someone once told me, and it is written, that alcoholism (and addiction to other substances) is like the ultimate jealous lover. It will, somehow, someway, destroy anything and anyone which gets between it and the addict/alcoholic. That was certainly my experience. So- to his family, and the city- the ride down will continue, as long as he is enabled by those ‘close to him’, and as long as the system that put him in the ‘job’, allows him to keep his ‘job’ and his ‘title’. I pray he is out of a job before that happens. As to his family…. I learned early on in my own recovery- the enablers are as sick as the alcoholic. (I was one of those too.) I pray that Toronto survives the disease.

  30. Chris Archer

     /  November 6, 2013

    Rob Ford is an addict who can’t face truth or face himself. All of his supporters have become his enablers. So Rob, keep on lying to yourself and to us. That is what you do best.

  31. daniel magnusson

     /  November 6, 2013

    what a damn good article, the thing is we need more people to speak like this. Addiction in all possible way’s are killing fields of both society and family’s.

  32. Me

     /  November 7, 2013

    I am shivering from the knowledge you have about addicts…about me…and yet we have never met.
    I lied, to myself and to my family. I stole from my self and my family. I was two different people in front of my self and my family.
    I continued this until one day, like Rob Ford’s day this week, when I had to let people know. I could no longer take the pressure. I gave them hints so they would guess. Unfortunately in my case, the words and acknowledgment came from my mouth. I didn’t have the luxury of having a bunch of reporters trying to figure out the puzzle. But today I am happy it was me that brought it out in the open.
    I knew from day one about Mr. Ford, although I know I needed to pray I was wrong and give him the benefit of the doubt. But, just his words, his physicality, his eyes. they tell a story. I am not mad at Mr. Ford for being an addict. I am mad at him for being given a chance to come clean and not doing so. I am mad at him for holding the city hostage and not letting go. I am mad at his selfishness.
    Today, I am sober. I have not touched the drug in a LONG time. The night I do, I WILL die.
    I have 2 children. I have a steady job I love. I have a degree. A car. A house. A cat that has food in its bowl.

  1. Short update and article re: Rob Ford and addiction - SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information
  • Madeline Ashby…

    ...is a science fiction writer, strategic foresight consultant, anime fan, and immigrant. She is represented by Anne McDermid & Associates, and IAM Sports & Entertainment. You can buy her novels here. Her short fiction has appeared in Nature, FLURB, Tesseracts, Imaginarium, and Escape Pod. Her essays and criticism have appeared at BoingBoing, io9, WorldChanging, Creators Project, Arcfinity, and Tor.com.
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