Catherine Soful died in December at the age of 34.
Growing old gracefully is not just a matter of coasting into the sunset - it's constantly treading water. Elite runner and writer Jean-Paul Bedard shares how his philosophy of movement, gratitude and forgiveness helps him to stay young at heart and mind despite a difficult past.
I used to live in the moment, and that moment was usually an all-consuming desire not to just escape, but to annihilate -- to numb everything inside of me. I was suicidal and wanted nothing more than oblivion. I can remember the morning I walked out of that hospital like it was yesterday, but in fact, it was 7,328 days ago, and I've been clean and sober ever since.
I have now been clean from opioids since April 2016 ... almost one year. It was not easy and I will always be an addict in recovery BUT if my mental illness and trauma was diagnosed earlier, I may never have sought the comfort of drugs.
The video is reminiscent of former Toronto mayor Rob Ford's biggest scandal.
When he was still in office, all of these criticisms were fair game. The man was an addict, and most progressives I know understand that addiction is a mental health issue and needs to be treated as such. Nonetheless, the man was in charge of our nation's largest metropolitan, and being an addict did not absolve him from the rightful criticism he received. But then he sought treatment. And then he was diagnosed with cancer. And then he died.
The War on Drugs has been a failure, and soon enough using drugs will shift from a criminal to a public health issue. But what if we paid people not to engage in harmful consumption? If we rewarded them for stopping damaging use? Couldn't the savings in all manner of costs greatly outweigh the comparatively small expense of any incentive?
I had a good friend of mine become a drug addict. Crack specifically. I never imagined he'd be using it in a million years, but life has a funny way of showing you that anything is possible. He was a natural born hustler. He sold dope at school, at parties and pretty much wherever he could make a buck.
Critics have begun pointing the finger at the medical system and its prescribers -- well-meaning doctors and specialists who've been giving too many patients excessively powerful opioid medications to deal with modest pain. But we can dig deeper and look at the relationship between medical education and pharmaceutical company influence as a significant contributing factor.
As a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, feelings of remorse exist frequently in the wake of nostalgia. I'm told that, with time, nostalgia and remorse will undergo a kind of mitosis, and begin to occupy different spaces in my consciousness. Until then, they are forced to coexist, making Memory Lane feel more like an unlit back alley.
Over the five years I spent seeking treatment, my family and I encountered a seemingly endless series of obstacles -- from programs that couldn't accommodate me, to waiting lists that lasted much longer than my desire to get clean -- all of which combined to feel like the treatment system was designed for me to fail.
I may not be popular for saying this, but guess what -- people relapse; that's a reality on the path to recovery. And if anything, over the years, I've discovered that the more people who know I'm in recovery, the more support I'm exposed to when I might be struggling and prone for a relapse.
I'm coming up to my 19th anniversary of becoming clean and sober, and this time of the year for me is typically a moment of reflection. I'm still not sure how I went from standing alone on a subway platform with the intention of taking my life 20 years ago, to standing in front of an audience of 200 people looking to me for guidance and hope.
For my entire life, I've been on the run -- at first it was as a child, "running away" from the violent and daily physical abuse that took place behind closed doors in my home. From that moment onward, I kept everything inside of me, and around me, off in the distance. And thus began many years of escape that came in the form of a destructive alcohol and drug addiction.
I think a strategic approach to harm minimization needs to be the primary focus of a drug strategy in Canada. Not the typical harm minimization strategy, but rather one that focuses on building an innovative and integrated response that recognizes that the solution to addiction is as much or more about early intervention and combating the addiction directly. It is necessary to engage partners and service providers within the youth community if we hope to develop an innovative, enhanced education and prevention program targeted at youth in schools.
Since 2009, Health Canada has taken the position that e-cigarettes containing nicotine are illegal. But out on the streets, Health Canada is simply being ignored. There's a brisk trade in vaping supplies including nicotine. Much of the new legislation might be found unconstitutional if challenged in the courts. Nicotine addicts who still use tobacco as a delivery method are suffering harm to their health that now appears to be quite unnecessary.
Days after his death, his former wife released a letter in the beast that is Rolling Stone, begging us not to glorify or romanticize the death of a rockstar who struggled with mental illness and drug addiction. Do you not think it's even more detrimental to vilify this man?
Today, doctors' offices are inundated with people who have been harmed more than helped by these drugs. Thousands more are dead. And yet the marketing continues, with pain specialists and advocacy groups opposing moves to curtail opioid prescription, their efforts financed by the very companies that make these drugs.
I want you to see the 'real' me -- a man who has been running his entire life, a man who has travelled so far, only to come back to himself. My name is Jean-Paul, and I am a survivor of sexual violence, but I am so much more than that. I am a husband. I am a father. I am a writer. I am an elite athlete. I am an advocate for survivors all around the world.
If you had asked me why I was the way that I was, why I cheated, stole, lied and took advantage of people, I would have told you that I had no choice but to behave that way. I had to look out for myself -- no one else was going to.