When politicians have something to confess, it’s usually after everyone knows about and they can stay in denial no longer. For some denial never ends until the cell door closes. Political courage is unfortunately in short supply these days.
That’s why it’s refreshing to see a politician admit a something potentially politically damaging on his own accord.
George Smitherman is the Liberal health minister for Ontario and is openly gay, he says coming out on this is “much more terrifying.” He said for 5 years in the early 90’s he was addicted to street stimulants used as “party drugs”. He didn’t list the type of drug(s), possibly crystal meth?
Smitherman took the gutsy step of revealing his personal struggle at this week’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Courage to Come Back Awards, although he gave few specifics.
“When I saw that word `Courage’ so large behind on the screen it really made me realize it would really not be right to mount the podium and make the traditional greeting,” he said. “So I said what was in my heart. I left the room a better person. It was liberating. If it comes back to haunt me, so be it.
He saw a drug specialist psychiatrist for individual counselling, and cut out friends related to his “party scene”.
Conservative Leader John Tory handed him a note of support in the Legislature this week.
Double surprise, opposition leader showing some class instead playing “attack the perceived wounded at all costs”.
“But both his grandfathers were gamblers and he wonders if that played any genetic part in his substance abuse.”
One thing he might consider is the link between addictions, gambling and ADD. Not saying he has it, but it’s probably worth spending a bit of time investigating the possibility. ADD is the #2 genetically inherited condition.
This article on ADHD and gambling by Nina Littman-Sharp and Umesh Jain of Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is worth a read
There is evidence to suggest that a considerable subset of problem gamblers have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), with characteristic features of impulsivity and difficulty sustaining attention. The two disorders, problem gambling and ADHD, interact on various levels; for instance, gambling impulses are poorly controlled and ADHD symptoms such as chronic boredom, depression and low self-esteem are relieved by the stimulus and reward of gambling.