Ontario Health Minister Abused Stimulants in Past, Has the Guts to Admit It.

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.

I blogged earlier about the relationship between crystal meth and ADD. Here’s some articles on ADD and Addictions

5 thoughts on “Ontario Health Minister Abused Stimulants in Past, Has the Guts to Admit It.”

  1. Courageous indeed. There certainly could be political fallout for this man. Please keep us posted on how the public and his peers receive this confession of his. I wish him all the best.

    Addiction is something I haven’t covered at my blog – maybe because it’s a humor blog and I don’t find the subject funny. Maybe because it’s a painful subject for many people. Secret shames. Secret actions. I often wonder about why our brains would develop in a way that would allow us to become permanently rewired to instantly pursue behaviors that on the short term please us but in the long term damage us.

    The Splintered Mind – Overcoming Neurological Disabilities With Lots Of Humor And Attitude

  2. So far not much Douglas, other than a few typical reactionary self righteous right wing columnists.

    Canadians have a different take on addiction then many Americans, here it’s gernerally viewed more as a health issue than a criminal and moral issue and if a stick your head in the sand drug war strategy has failed for 50 years, we don’t want to keep that failing strategy going for another 50.

    For humor, what about drug abuser user Rush Limbaugh?

    i.e. “”What this says to me is that too many whites are getting away with drug use. Too many whites are getting away with drug sales. Too many whites are getting away with trafficking in this stuff. The answer to this disparity is not to start letting people out of jail because we’re not putting others in jail who are breaking the law. The answer is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them and send them up the river, too.”
    — Rush Limbaugh show, Oct. 5, 1995″

    “If (Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders) wants to legalize drugs, send the people who want to do drugs to London and Zurich, and let’s be rid of them.
    — Rush Limbaugh show, Dec 9, 1993
    via http://www.buzzflash.com/analysis/03/10/ana03004.html


  3. Self-righteousness leers from both sides, my friend. That’s why I’m a registered Independent. 😉 I don’t think much of politicians and even less of political parties. Instead of being a fence sitter I prefer to sit in the judgement seat and look down piously upon the rabble above it all. Oh, waitaminute… LOL j/k

    On an unrelated matter, where did you come up with your “Pills Don’t Teach Skills” meme? I love it. It succinctly summarizes my philosophy about medications regarding AD/HD and Depression.

    The Splintered Mind – Overcoming Neurological Disabilities With Lots Of Humor And Attitude

  4. Hi Douglas,

    got it from the book my ADD coaching client Jeff Hamilton and I wrote that we’re looking for a publisher for, http://www.pillsdontteachskills.com

    It’s not anti meds, they’re useful, but they’re not a complete solution.

    Both sides are dirty, though the right has all 3 branches of power and essentially have been given a blank cheque by Americans so they tend to be dirtier cause they get to access more $$. There are common grounds, i.e., look at the democratic congressman who got caught with $90,000 in his freezer and got his office searched. the republicans screamed against the search, apparently because they feel they’re above the law. crooks of a feather….

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