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A Failure of Caring; My Son’s Death

Addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease that kills thousands of people yearly.

Our son, Ian Maude, died of this disease at 32.

Ian died because despite the loss of life and huge societal costs of this disease, it is not taught in our medical schools. He died because his uneducated doctor provided him with up to 300 sleeping pills per fill along with strong antidepressants, a deadly mix when combined with alcohol. She had no insight for him about his disease, other than a suggestion to attend a twelve-step program.

Our son died because the Canada Health Act and the Charter of Rights does not provide people that suffer from this disease with the same access to evidence-based compassionate treatment as we would demand for any other disease.

Our son died because our government has become addicted to the tax revenue raised through the sales of alcohol (over 2 billion in Ontario alone) and will not direct a reasonable amount of that revenue to the treatment of people that suffer from alcohol use disorder.

Our son died because the alcohol industry has bullied our government into creating policies that hide the true health costs of the products that they sell.

Our son died because our government in Alberta has allowed easy access to alcohol on every street corner, day or night.

Our son died because we have allowed the alcohol industry to normalize drinking through its relentless advertising, rather than holding them to the same rules which have been imposed on the tobacco industry, and which have proven to save lives.

Our son died because of our government’s lack of will to treat addiction within our healthcare system, and has left the treatment of addiction in private hands. The vast majority of people cannot afford private care, and those of us that can, spend tens of thousands of dollars for nothing more than a 12-step program, with no scientifically proven protocols, such as medication assisted treatment.

Our son died because private treatment centers are very loosely regulated with no minimum standard of care.

Our son died because private treatment centers care more about their profit than their clients.

Our son died because neither the medical or private system gave him life saving access to Naltrexone. This drug is not even on the formulary in most provinces.

Addiction is an easy disease to ignore. People that suffer from addiction have been made to believe that they should suffer anonymously, that they have a moral failing and if the only treatment they have access to doesn’t work, it’s because they haven’t tried hard enough.

Our son accessed emergency services three times. Each time he was dismissed on his own, when his blood alcohol level dropped below .08. Never once was he offered any of the medications proven to help decrease his cravings, and he was never referred to an addiction doctor that might have understood his disease, and been willing to treat him with evidence-based compassionate care.

Our son died in shame and all alone. We can not bare to think how frightening that must have been. People that suffer from addiction to not qualify for the compassionate care that others receive in their dying moments from our medical system.

We as a society need to remove the stigma of this disease that prevents so many people from seeking treatment. Health professional and public education, harm reduction and evidence-based treatment would save lives and millions of dollars on the societal costs of this disease.

Our son died because our society allowed it.

By Kay Maude