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  • Writer's pictureAnnaliese Rix

International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, 26 June 2020

“The theme for the 2020 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking “Better Knowledge for Better Care” emphasizes the need to improve the understanding of the world drug problem and how in turn, better knowledge will foster greater international cooperation for countering its impact on health, governance and security.”(UNODC)

I have extensive experience in the field of substance abuse. I have been an advocate for harm reduction while serving on the UNODC technical work group, participating in the draft of the National Drug Masterplan, participating in field research with injecting drug users, and during the incredible journeys I have had within the marginalized communities which harm reduction focuses on. Each of those individuals carried individual pain and stories, shame, hurt, rejection of society, and guilt for hurting their families.

I can not emphasize enough how important it is to educate yourself, and to be willing to reach out to these people in need of support and treatment.

As Dr Gabor Maté questions:

“Not why the addiction but why the pain.”

* “Not all addictions are rooted in abuse or trauma, but I do believe they can all be traced to painful experience. ...

* “It is impossible to understand addiction without asking what relief the addict finds, or hopes to find, in the drug or the addictive behaviour.”

To me it became apparent that the lack of real emotional connection seems to run like a thread through all those affected by substance abuse.

As a society we have a responsibility to ensure a healthy environment for all. Turning a blind eye does not release you from your responsibility.

Thinking that it won’t happen to me or my family, is denying the reality in our respective communities. Nobody is immune. Drugs do not discriminate. It can be anyone’s child, grandchild, brother, sister, spouse, friend or colleague.

We need to be more understanding, to support, and to practice healthy community if we care to encourage healthy lives and healthy choices within our communities.

“Not every story has a happy ending, ... but the discoveries of science, the teachings of the heart, and the revelations of the soul all assure us that no human being is ever beyond redemption. The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists. How to support that possibility in others and in ourselves is the ultimate question.”

-Gabor Maté

(excerpt from his book: In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction).

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