Rob Ford, mayor of the city of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, has made a name for himself, although not for his achievements. Ever since a video of him allegedly smoking a crack pipe emerged in May, 2013, he has been regularly featured in Canadian and United States news and commentaries. He has also been a rich source of material for talk shows and comics thanks to his ongoing disruptive behavior and inappropriate remarks, often made while apparently intoxicated. Several video and audio recordings, as well as anecdotes, detailing his wild behavior have made the news over the past year or so. In November 2013, in light of the drug abuse scandal, he was stripped by the city council of most of his mayoral duties. However, instead of admitting he had a problem and seeking help, he decided to campaign for reelection. His attitude about his substance abuse problem made him a poster boy for denial.
Ford Decides to Get Help
That has all changed. A new video of him smoking what appears to be crack in a pipe emerged on Wednesday, April 30, following closely on the heels of a scandal earlier in the week caused by disrespectful comments about one of the other mayoral candidates. Ford released a statement on Facebook only a few hours after this latest controversy emerged, stating he is taking a leave of absence to get help for his alcohol problem:
“It’s not easy to be vulnerable and this is one of the most difficult times in my life. I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence. I have struggled with this for some time. Today, after taking some time to think about my own well-being, how to best serve the people of Toronto and what is in the best interests of my family, I have decided to take a leave from campaigning and from my duties as Mayor to seek immediate help. I have tried to deal with these issues by myself over the past year. I know that I need professional help and I am now 100% committed to getting myself right.”
Ford has not revealed how long he will be away, nor where he is going for help. The deputy mayor of Toronto, Norm Kelly, will take on all mayoral duties, many of which he was already managing. It remains to be seen whether Ford will be able to bounce back politically from this latest scandal; regardless, he is finally admitting his problem and seeking professional help, an important step in the road to recovery.
Denial is the Most Common Obstacle to Treatment
According to the latest report from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), an estimated 23.1 million Americans (8.9 percent of the population) are in need of treatment for substance abuse, but only 2.5 million received help. That leaves over 20 million people (7.9 percent) still facing the consequences of their problems. One of the biggest reasons that people do not seek help for abuse is denial, with 94.6 percent of those needing treatment not getting it because they do not believe they need help, according to SAMHSA. Another 3.7 percent acknowledge they need help, but make no effort to get help.
Common Excuses for not Seeking Treatment
Only 1.7 percent of those who did not receive treatment sought help but could not get it for a variety of reasons, the report said. The biggest reason for not receiving treatment was due to lack of health coverage and means (38.2 percent), followed by 26.3 percent who were not ready to stop using. Other reasons included health coverage that did not cover treatment, fear of hurting their job, unsure of where to find help, lack of transportation or other inconveniences, apprehension of social stigma, and a lack of time. However, these are all just excuses. Even though cost is the most difficult issue for many to overcome, with the Affordable Healthcare Act, behavioral health is now one of the 10 required benefits for all insurance plans. This helps make treatment more accessible and affordable, which will help those who want help to find it.
Another issue is fear of negative social or professional consequences, but going to rehab and getting help will actually improve a person’s life rather than harm it. Rob Ford is an example of how avoiding help can cause more damage than receiving it. By remaining in office after the initial alcohol and drug problems emerged, he faced more ridicule, more problems, and eventually had to give up his mayoral duties. Although nothing can be certain, if he had sought help sooner, there is a good chance that at least some of these problems would not have occurred. There is less social stigma attached to rehab than there once was. There is greater respect for people who make the effort to get help, and more appreciation of the fact that addiction is a disease requiring professional treatment.
People with substance abuse and addiction need help dealing with their behavioral health problem or problems. They are complex mental health conditions that benefit from professional assistance and support. At Sovereign Health Group, we hope that Rob Ford finds the help he needs during his leave of absence. We also hope that those who likewise struggle with denial of their problem will find the strength to choose to seek help.
Addiction Treatment at Sovereign Health Group
Sovereign Health Group offers state-of-the-art, evidence-based treatment for substance abuse and addiction, as well as mental health disorders and dual diagnosis. We are dually licensed to treat addiction and mental health, and we are Joint Commission accredited. Our programs are customized to the individual and incorporate a combination of expressive and experiential treatment modalities. You can learn more about our programs here, or you can call our Admissions team at 866-264-9778.
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