Opening our minds

Rural Alberta has a drug problem.

Anyone who has spent any time in a courtroom can see that. In case after case, guilty pleas come along with remarks on drug use and addiction — usually alcohol, meth, fentanyl and other chemicals that wreak havoc on bodies and minds.

Why do people do this?

Despite stereotypes, it’s generally not about people trying to avoid being a productive member of society.

Sometimes, people will just do anything to escape themselves.

Anyone who has done any kind of drug — whether alcohol, legal painkillers or street drugs — knows that it can be an release, a rush that pulls you away from the horrors of your own mind. For a little while, anyway.

When the high wears off, you’re alone again, facing the pain that only hid behind a façade of dopamine and serotonin. Enter the police, the lawyers, the judges. The arrests and charges, prison sentences and probation.

The justice system should not be dealing with the drug problem. It’s our mental health system that needs support, especially in rural areas of the province. And it’s our view of people who use the mental health system.

I’ll be honest — I see a counsellor. Once a month, I go discuss what’s going on in my head.

I have no problem being open about it. I hope that it will help someone else be open about their own issues and seek help rather than using drugs in unhealthy ways.

Published in the Town & Country, November 14, 2017