Canadian News Aug 31, 2020 5:13 PM EST

'Addiction is not a choice': Dr. Tam says Canadians need to change the way we speak about drug addicts

"We know that addiction is not a choice," Tam told reporters. "It is a treatable medical condition and there are many different paths to wellness and recovery."

'Addiction is not a choice': Dr. Tam says Canadians need to change the way we speak about drug addicts
Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal, QC
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Dr. Theresa Tam told Canadians that they should "change the way [they] speak about drug addiction, while saying that cabinet had no plans to decriminalize heroin.

"We know that addiction is not a choice," Tam told reporters. "It is a treatable medical condition and there are many different paths to wellness and recovery."

"In these difficult and unprecedented times it is important we recognize substance use disorder as a health and social issue, and that we treat people who use drugs with compassion and provide them with the support they need," Dr. Tam said. "...Change the way you speak about substance use so others feel supported to reach out for help."

The Department of Health also published a "guide" for Canadians, titled "Changing How We Talk About Substance Abuse" that urges readers to "make sure."

Dr. Tam, had previously said, though, that she favoured "moving towards the societal discussion on decriminalization," according to Blacklock's Reporter.

"From a public health perspective, I think I can speak on behalf of many of my colleagues," said Tam. "We know you cannot arrest your way out of an opioid crisis. It is escalating as we speak."

"I think supporting access to a safer supply of drugs is really critical," Tam continued.

"Looking at some of the changes in prosecutorial guidance is a step in the right direction as well. In the end it is about recognizing there is a huge amount of stigma and discrimination towards persons who use drugs, and by providing a safer drug supply, safe consumption sites and also moving towards the societal discussion on decriminalization is all sort of really important. I think Canadians should be seized with this particular crisis which can actually happen to anyone."

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