National Addictions Awareness Week: What Is It?

The National Addictions Awareness Week media campaign is glitzy. It’s all over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. The organizers have posters, hashtags and a theme at the ready.

They are explaining scientific terms and laying out the financial repercussions. The information is current and readily accessible.

The academics get their fill of stats. But stats have no emotion, and this is a subject people around the world connect with their feelings as much as any topic in their lives. 

Every day, kids see the conditions of addiction in their homes. They see them on the way to school. Friends see them in the eyes of their peers. Employees see them in the shakes and scent of their colleagues. Bosses see them when profits go down and the workplace tensions go up.

National Addictions Awareness Week starts today, November 22, and runs through until November 28.

In 2020, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) has its hands full in generating its share of compassion. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be one more health issue to ponder for a population already overwhelmed.

But, as children know from watching their parents or their siblings, as the public witnesses on the streets and alleyways, and companies see in staff production numbers, the problem of addiction is no less devastating than COVID.

Since 1988, it has been the CCSA’s mandate to explain the numbers, the scope of the problem and to offer possible solutions to policymakers in government. Their findings are discussed around the country, in offices on Parliament Hill, and in case conferences held at recovery centres like Aurora’s. 

Addiction is a baffling, daunting challenge. The Greeks came up with the word dipsomania, translated to “thirst frenzy”. Scripture warns of its snarl in Proverbs 20:1, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” Americans tried to confront it with prohibition over 100 years ago. 

That is just from the alcohol angle of addiction. The CCSA also focuses on addictions to cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamine, opioids and prescription drugs, as well as process addictions like gambling.

Over time, those suffering from these states of mind and body have been put in jails and mental institutions. They’ve been shamed, rejected by families, churches and societies. They’ve endured electroshock therapy, lobotomies, and have been studied by psychotherapists from Jung to Adler. And, today, more people are dying than ever before.

Though most experts determine there to be two sets of addictions – chemical and behavioural – they serve up an ever-growing complex set of problems with a plethora of suggested complex solutions.

Substances vary from tobacco to alcohol, from heroin to caffeine, and the consequences of their repeated use range from minimal to deadly. Process addictions run the gambit from gambling to kleptomania, from compulsive sexual actions to internet addiction. Again, the consequences are irritants at best, relationship-destroying, suicide- or homicide-inducing at worst. 

Aurora Recovery Centre is at the forefront of implementing contemporary, proven, science-backed solutions to help ease the rampant problem of Substance Use Disorder. From Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, from Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy to medically assisted therapies, to the most common, 12 Step facilitation, the search continues to find ways to reduce the impact of the ravages of addiction.

This week, we join CCSA for National Addictions Awareness Week, bringing focus to addiction, substance use disorders and mental illnesses in an effort to cap the stigma that has prevented too many from getting the treatment they need for too long.

By Jeff Vircoe


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