This being a writing week for me for the newspaper, I thought it would make for a worthwhile discussion with readers. After all, it's not every day that someone at the very center of power admits he was a drug abuser.
Minister's admission a brave wake-up callYour turn: Was this a smart or a dumb move for our esteemed minister? What - good, bad or indifferent - might possibly come out of something like this?
Published Tuesday, May 16, 2006
The London Free Press
Politicians typically aren't known for being gutsy heroes. Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman may change that. His admission last week that he was addicted to illegal drugs in the 1990s took a lot of courage.
It isn't easy to admit you've been a drug addict. Society tends to stigmatize its addicts, assuming they're directionless losers who crash out in dilapidated houses and forage for their next hit.
But Smitherman doesn't hang out in drug dens. As a provincial cabinet minister, he's got much more to lose than the typical crack smoker stereotypically sprawled across the back of a dimly lit room.
The minister's admission shatters the stigma and reinforces what has been increasingly obvious for too long: drug users and abusers don't exist solely on the fringe of society. They're everywhere. Friends, colleagues, neighbours and close family members can all fall under the spell of addiction.
How many among us would have the guts to admit it? How many among us would have the guts to applaud those who do?