Addictions awareness week aims to reduce shame

Published on November 15, 2015

Ashlie Cormier, Prevention and Health Promotion Specialist with Addiction Services, holds a book that talks about how families and close friends can play a positive role in helping a loved one overcome an addiction. 

ADAM MACINNIS/THE NEWS

The shame associated with addiction is one of the biggest barriers to people getting help and one of the issues that those in addiction services want to see addressed this week.

From Nov. 15 to 21, Mental Health and Addictions, Pictou County will join with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and addiction prevention, treatment and recovery organizations across the country to mark National Addictions Awareness Week.

This year’s theme is “Addiction Matters,” drawing attention to substance abuse as a chronic health issue that impacts individuals, families and communities across Canada.

“Mental Health and Addictions works to address the many harms of substance abuse, and bring hope to the lives of those with substance use disorders,” said Ashlie Cormier, a prevention and health promotion specialist.

She said they’ve seen the success stories and know that change is possible.

However, she said many still believe it is a moral failing and discriminate against those with a substance use disorder.

“What we know, what research says and what we hear from people is there is so much shame associated with addiction that that’s often the biggest barrier to people seeking help.”

She said an addiction needs to be treated through the same lens as a mental illness and people shouldn’t be judged.

Led nationally by CCSA, NAAW highlights issues and solutions to help address alcohol and other drug-related harms.

“We will be travelling to our local high schools and community college this week to raise awareness about addiction and the services and supports available to help support those affected in our community,” Cormier said. “We are also encouraging the larger community to participate in a day of conversation about why addiction matters. On Thursday, Nov. 19 whether it is over coffee with a friend, or during supper with your family, have a conversation about this important issue. If we want to change the future of addiction, we need to continue to have a dialogue about it.”

In Pictou County the Nova Scotia Health Authority has numerous services available including a detox unit as well as counselling services, which can be held with individuals or group settings.

Because family and close friends have been determined to be such an important part of helping people overcome addictions, there is also a support group to help people learn how they can help their loved one as well as deal with the challenges that person’s addiction can have on their own lives.

“If you are a family member or friend of a family member of someone with an addiction and you don’t know what to do or you are sort of at a loss of how to help them, we have an excellent program.”

She said families and friends often get involved before the person with the addiction, but because of their involvement, they are able to encourage that person to get the help they need.

For more information on services to help with addictions visit www.addictionservices.ns.ca. You can also call or visit the Community Based Service office at 690 East River Road, New Glasgow at (902) 755-7017 or the Withdrawal Management Unit (Detox) at 199 Elliott St. in Pictou at (902) 485-4335.