I had about one day of addiction education during medical school. It wasn’t enough to shift the story I’d accepted from the media that drugs were bad, that addiction and the people affected were bad. Then I became an intern and provided treatment in a detox unit for three months.
My patients were regular people who could’ve easily been a family friend, relative or neighbour. They weren’t bad people, but they’d all encountered adversity in their lives and drugs were a way to cope or survive.
What’s upsetting is that addiction is still overwhelmingly portrayed as a negative behaviour rather than the health issue it is. This leads society to turn its back on people, when their addiction is a signal that they need help to recover.
My views were challenged because I got to hear stories of addiction from people directly affected; now I have the privilege of advocating for their voices to be heard.