This letter is being written in response to Ritchy Dube's
comments in his Rap Session column in regard to people either
unwilling or unable to accept sober alcoholics/addicts and
ex-cons as equals (as counsellors). I have worked in the
addiction field for the past 12 years after sobering up here in
Sudbury in 1994.
Since that time, my observations support many of Dube's
comments. In working with an average of 120 to 140
addiction-based clients per year over the past 12 years, I was
myself amazed at the biases on both sides.
I cannot count how many times I have heard how it is
impossible for someone who has not suffered from an addiction
to understand the struggles such a person faces getting sober,
emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually.
While Dube's observations and statements are true to a great
degree, does not living that experience or travelling that path
diminish the fact someone might have something positive to
offer of course not.
Dube's article draws on an unfortunate fact. There does exist a bias by the vast majority of those who are considered normal by society's standards and have graduated from universities.
They have an uncanny knack of seeing themselves as
superior in intellect and ability to those who have had to
struggle to rebuild their lives from addiction and or being on
the wrong side of the law. This bias does exist as I have
witnessed it myself over the years.
What makes this bias even stranger is that when all these
graduates are third- and fourth-year students, they are very
happy to do their placements in places where it would be
difficult to find a college diploma on a wall.
So the question is, why? The answer is frontline experience. I have often heard it said that they come, take our experience and in three or four years, look down upon us.
Dube's article is overdue.
Kirk W. Pascoe