Politicians and Substance Abuse

The growing scandal around Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is just the latest in a long history of drug and alcohol abuse by elected officials and the corruption it has been associated with. Ford hasn’t been doing himself any favors with his brash behavior and refusal to accept a motion for him to step aside by City Council members.

For those not following the story, news of his crack cocaine use splashed headlines, but it appears that the main substance abuse problem is alcohol, which has been the center of each of the less then flattering videos that have surfaced. He even blamed his smoking crack on being “extremely enebriated” in his apology. His outbursts against other City Council members in recent hearings are indications that he is nowhere near the point of stopping his behavior though.

The best thing for him to do would be to humbly admit his misdeeds and seek help. This isn’t going to end well for him or Canada’s largest city if he doesn’t. His own brother, Doug Ford, is also a member of the Council and is one of only two members who voted against a measure for him to step aside. Previously, his brother said he just needed a vacation rather than some form of treatment, which is a classic example of family enabling and co-dependency. Doug has also lashed out against other Council members and now the two are making Toronto’s leadership look like a complete train wreck. A professional family intervention certainly seems to be in order.

Anyone familiar with substance abuse and associated behaviors of individuals and family members wouldn’t be particularly surprised by how the Ford brothers are acting, it’s just that this is on such a public stage for everyone to see.

Twenty years ago the former Mayor of Washington, D.C. also had a series of public embarrassments involving substance abuse. Marion Barry tested positive for cocaine more than once, but was re-elected even after an arrest for cocaine possession.

If dealt with properly, substance abuse can clearly be forgiven. It shouldn’t necessarily be a political death sentence if they get help they need or demonstrate the ability to keep themselves in check. People do deserve second chances, but they have to realize when they’re blowing an opportunity for redemption.

Mike Loverde

With firsthand experience with addiction, Mike Loverde is now a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP), as accredited by the Association of Intervention Specialists and the Pennsylvania Certification Board. He founded Family First Intervention in 2008 and has since helped hundreds of families find intervention and addiction rehabilitation solutions.

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