It’s not often you hear stories like that of Mr Rob Ford, the embattled mayor of Toronto, Canada. For the better part of a year, we have been hearing stories about Mr Ford’s penchant for cocaine and alcohol amidst rumours that he is a closet addict. In fact, rumours of a video showing Ford using crack surfaced last May. Those videos were never released to the public. Things quickly changed last week when Ford decided he had had enough.

In light of another video that did go public, Ford decided it was time for him to enter a rehab programme for drug and alcohol addiction. No one knows where he is, but he has told news sources that he is doing fine and plans to be ready for his re-election campaign in October.

Mayor Ford should be commended for at least choosing to seek rehab and being willing to be public about it, even in light of his prominent position. Many other celebrities go off to rehab in complete secrecy, instructing publicists and others to keep quiet. However, Ford, for better or worse, has let it be known he needs help to conquer his demons. At least in that regard, he is setting a good example for others who might also need help.

Denial Doesn’t Work

Mr Ford’s experiences over the last year or so give us some very good insights into addiction. First is the concept of denial. When the rumours of his likely addiction first surfaced last year, Mayor Ford routinely denied he had a problem. He admitted that he used crack ‘once or twice’, but steadfastly maintained he was merely a heavy partier who got out of hand on rare occasions. Such denials are common among substance abusers and addicts.

Unfortunately, it often requires a person to reach the end of his or her rope before he or she is willing to admit a problem exists. This reality is a testament to how powerful mind-altering drugs can be. Individuals will witness the destruction of everything around them and still mistakenly believe they do not have a problem, at least until the bottom drops out on them personally. At that point, it is finally time to get help and addiction advice.

Responsibility for Successful Treatment

The other lesson we can learn from Ford’s experience is the fact that responsibility for successful treatment rests with the individual him/herself. Experts maintain that the only real cure for addiction is permanent abstinence, yet only the addict can decide to remain abstinent.

There have been rumours that Mr Ford has violated some of the rules set down by the rehab centre he has been admitted to. If true, he is already demonstrating an attitude that could lead him right back to drugs and alcohol. Successful treatment requires a recovering addict to be willing to do whatever it takes to recover, even if that means abiding by rules he finds distasteful.

Wherever Mr Ford is seeking treatment, he is likely undergoing a 4 to 12 week programme that includes both detox and rehabilitative therapy. He is likely receiving some sort of one-on-one counselling as well as group counselling and 12-step work. All of the therapeutic tools that would be used to help any other addict are being used with Mr Ford.

We hope Mayor Ford succeeds in his quest to be substance free. If he manages to complete rehab and avoid relapse, it will be one of the most important things he has accomplished in his life. He will also be setting a much better example than he has to date. And that can only be a good thing.

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