Nunatsiaq News
LETTERS: Nunavik February 06, 2018 - 2:30 pm

Treatment centre clients must admit they’re alcoholics

"Alcoholics and drug addicts are masters in making up excuses and lies"

A letter writer says the board of directors behind Kuujjuaq's Isuarsivik treatment centre are giving its clients
A letter writer says the board of directors behind Kuujjuaq's Isuarsivik treatment centre are giving its clients "a false sense of hope" by saying they're not alcoholics, but that they instead mis-use alcohol to treat traumas. (FILE PHOTO)

It is my understanding that the organizers of Kuujjuaq’s Isuarsivik centre made this statement: “Most of Isuarsivik’s clients are misusing alcohol, but they’re not alcoholics … they’re using alcohol to treat a trauma.”

Any excuse to make one’s personal life look more attractive than skid row alcoholics or drug addicts. I know because I lived on the skids and was homeless.

It may be a good “justification” in not admitting to be an alcoholic or drug addict. Remember alcoholics and drug addicts are masters in making up excuses and lies to save themselves from jail time, the loss of a wife, husband, spouse, or being fired from their job.

It is rehabilitation centres like this that are trying to find a softer, easier way to make one’s life more tolerable instead of looking at the root causes for being an alcoholic or drug addict.

My childhood could be the same as other adults had while growing up, but my childhood saw an extreme amount of physical violence, sexual assaults, abandonment by parents and a lack of trust towards the education system and the religious organizations within my community.

I told myself that I do not want to be like those who surrounded me as a child (parents, uncles, grandparents, friends of the family, brothers, sisters) when they were getting drunk or stoned on a daily basis.

Alcohol in my household or my neighbour’s household was easily available as drinking water and learning to drink or consume beer, liquor or drugs at an adolescent age was normal.

As a child, I grew up thinking I was an adult when I started drinking alcoholic beverages or smoking drugs. When I was old enough to start schooling, I was teased, bullied and beat up on a daily basis because of how I spoke and looked.

When I became old enough to stand up for myself, I fought. I fought like my father, brothers and or friends of the family fought, and that was to make sure that I beat the person up before I got beaten up.

In other words, I fought until I saw blood coming from the other person, and I knew then that I would not get beaten up.
 I grew up in an environment of physical trauma such as physical fights, physical beatings, sexual assaults, parents leaving their children.

With these sorts of physical traumas came emotional traumas. 
And it is these physical and emotional traumas that I had to deal with when I entered the rehabilitation program.

This rehabilitation program was mainly funded by private donations and the Anglican Church of Canada. This rehabilitation program was operated mainly by street people, alcoholics and drug addicts with the help of trained psychologists and psychiatrists.

There were times that the Anglican church ministry would help the counsellors in learning how to deal with personal traumatic issues from childhood to adult life experience on a day-to-day basis.

Once again, it is my understanding that organizers made this statement: “Most of Isuarsivik’s clients are misusing alcohol, but they’re not alcoholics.” This is giving the clients of the centre false hope.

The clients are not the ones in charge of the rehabilitation centre, but they are the ones telling the counsellors and or directors that they are misusing alcohol.

One must ask if Isuarsivik’s rehabilitation centre counsellors, board of directors or executive directors are in charge of this rehabilitation program, or are the clients?

The Inuit clients who enter the Isuarsivik centre any or any rehabilitation center within Canada must understand that these rehabilitation programs are run by those who have the knowledge of being a drug addict or alcoholic or who have the necessary diplomas, such as being a psychiatrist or psychotherapist.

As I read this article, I believe those on the board of directors and the project organizers are trying to find a softer, easier way for the Inuit because they believe the Inuit who enter this rehabilitation program are much too sensitive emotionally and spiritually to dig deep within themselves to really want their sobriety.

Over the years, being an Inuk, and belonging to sobriety programs, many Inuit have told me that the program that I belong to is much too hard for them.

They are personally ashamed of themselves for admitting to themselves and other people that they are alcoholics and always will be an alcoholic or drug addict until the day they die.

The Inuit culture and tradition in the past was to help each member of the community to become one within the community.

The Inuit culture and tradition today, as I see it, is give me more alcohol and drugs. Let’s get drunk and stoned. Let’s break the Canadian law. Let’s go to jail. 
I have seen case-load after case-load of the same people facing the criminal judge for the abuse of alcohol.

As per the first comment I made, “Nunavik has an epidemic of alcoholism and drug addiction.” This is a fact.

All one has to do is call their local police station and ask the officers what the criminal rate is for people charged with alcohol-related violence.

All one has to do is call their local nursing station and ask the nurses what causes the most visits to the nursing station, to be told it’s spousal abuse and child abuse while being intoxicated.

The Kativik Regional Government knows there is a dependency. The Nunavik Regional Health Social Services Board knows there is a dependency, but they do not want to spend that sort of money, probably millions of dollars, in helping the Inuit of Quebec.

In closing:

The Inuit of Canada are resilient people.

The Inuit are a strong people.

The Inuit are patient people.

For thousands of years they, the Inuit depended on themselves in being a healthy community.

For thousands of years they, the Inuit, depended on the land in being a healthy community. 
Today, most Inuit depend on beer, wine, liquor or home brew to function.

Today, most Inuit depend on any or all types of illegal drugs to function.
 It is up to those in charge of the Nunavik Inuit—Makivik Corp., Kativik Regional Government and Nunavik Regional Health Board and Social Services, Kativik School Board, the federal government, the Quebec government, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami—to take a stand and begin to help their fellow men, women and children to start spending the necessary money.

My sobriety date is July 1, 1985.

(Name withheld by request) Iqaluit

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(14) Comments:

#1. Posted by Former Nicotine Addict on February 06, 2018

A very interesting and courageous letter (in spite of the requested anonymity).

On one hand, I agree that a lack of intellectual honesty is something that we see in any number of public issues in the Inuit homeland. People believe the narrative that comforts them. In many cases I think there is even a group of people and businesses (both southern and Inuit) who profit from this deception.

However, I would be interested to hear from someone with some scientific understanding of the subject. I gather for a long time there was the idea that if you have severe, chronic pain you could take large doses of opioids that would be fatal in others - without becoming addicted. Apparently this idea is now in doubt. Is it possible that the Isuarsivik people are adapting this idea to psychological pain?

#2. Posted by Between Two Worlds on February 06, 2018

First off, I CANNOT begin to understand how you grew up.  It must have been painful & traumatic to grow up like that.  That being said; I myself grew up in the 70’s.  We had parents that taught us to have a healthy respect for law & government.  This was not “assimilation”.  Just a simple fact that not all Inuit grew up that way. 
Not just Inuit in the whole wide world are:  Resilient People; Strong People; Patient People
Not one town or city gets it right.  There will always be a section in your community that stays ignorant in how to live a “normal” life.  They must hit rock bottom before they want to change.  The ones I know seem determined to stay that way.
I myself don’t like to be lumped into a category of depending on illegal drugs or alcohol.  Or even thought of as “Special” just because I am Inuk.
I am hoping my character speaks for itself.
Everyone has a story of hardship; it takes courage to tell them.  I commend you.

#3. Posted by Pointless on February 06, 2018

What a pointless and patronizing letter written solely in opposition to a single sentence quote and the imagined inferences.

#4. Posted by Paul Murphy on February 07, 2018

Perhaps #3 you could expand on your, at the moment, pointless put down of another’s opinion.

#5. Posted by time for change on February 07, 2018

Dear article writer:  Takes one to know one and you can be assured the people are in good care by those piloting the new treatment centre.  Family and loved ones have been the sacrificial life to alcohol and drugs.  We can all identify with you.  Time for change.

#6. Posted by Problems drinkers on February 07, 2018

Admitting something is not really meaning it’s internalized. One can admit anything, and lie too. I’m not sure if a client needs to admit anything about alcohol, except to want to stop drinking it, to have a better life, considering life is hell when one drinks. I have a few family members who proclaims to be alcoholic, and are functional. Meaning they go to work, and do other usual every day stuff. I have a nephew who gets into lots of trouble with the law whe he drinks, but he has no cravings for @ drink , like the other proclaimed alcoholics. I think what we see in our communities in the north is a combination of alcoholic and troubled drinkers who go Waco with a bud or two, or a drink of hard liquor. If we are thinking that we are treating only alcoholics in a treatment Center, then we are all taken for a lie.

#7. Posted by Denial on February 07, 2018

The treatment Center located in Kuujjuaq is a joke. It was always a joke and always will be. It’s ran by a few so called recruiters who completed the 28 day, or 6 week program. They get southerners to come in and manage the show, usual some Indians from out west have been popular over the years. Or other wolf in sheeps clothing coming up from nord Ontario, pulling the wool over the directors and clients eyes. All the while getting thousands of otherwise good money, the region could use to help inuit life. If any thinks that it works out to improve life! Your going to be disappointed. The quebec government already did analysis on the programs about 20 years ago, a complete failure, nothing has improved or changed over the years. Just staff change.  But same clients come and go.

#8. Posted by unsure on February 07, 2018

If you dont want to quit your addiction, then you have no chance to succeed.
If you are going for treatment to appease the courts, family, and friends, you are not going to succeed.
I know im not an addict so i dont understand blah blah blah.

#9. Posted by I would not on February 07, 2018

I would not go to that treatment Center in Kuujjuaq , and hope none of my love ones will. Many law breakers are forced into treatment instead of jail. That’s their problems to begin with. Failure for sure. I know enough about the treatment Center in Kuujjuaq to say that if you go in there to submit youself, you will want to drink after it’s over. People go in there and come out much worst. Between the bible, and other useless literature from outdated programs, and screwed up staff, one will be rushing to the co-op for beer on graduation day.

#10. Posted by Chemical Shutdown on February 07, 2018

When people drink, the many chemicals in alcohol have a dangerous effect on the brain.  In fact they “stun the brain” and shutdown many functions.
These include inhibition, impulse control, rational thought, balance and knowledge of right and wrong.

This is what makes people so unpredictable and possibly dangerous as they walk around or visit, interacting with people.  They can suddenly lash out, become argumentative,spill, stagger around, say things they would never say, want to fight or knock things over or break things.

Not a pleasant person to be around is it?

The only solution is NOT to drink too many drinks and leave time between each drink.

No one has to finish everything up,just because the booze is sitting there, take it very slow.

We must all learn to become “social drinkers” where we can have a few but do NOT get drunk.

We cannot continue to use alcohol for escape from our problems to get drunk or to pass out.  We become dangerous people to others when we are like this

#11. Posted by Yes comment 10 on February 08, 2018

As a society we don’t put up with drunk people going around causing trouble. And it’s a choice to take that first drink, that you know you can’t handle. I know in the north we have over the years tolerated too much from drunks going around, some with a weapon. But I think that has changed a lot. Police and the general sensible public don’t tolerate these behaviours no more. We are know how drastically that can turn out. I’m for one thankful for quick intervention in most cases. Yes, just wait and count how many clients are put into treatment by the lawyers, judge or the justice system in general. And may I add that that system of professionals appears to take advantage of a treatment Center to dump people off, knowing along that one must want to go in there, if success is possible at all. Not to be dumped there.

#12. Posted by TGC on February 08, 2018

#13. Posted by better safe than sorry. on February 09, 2018

Abuse will never get old, how ironic I have been in situations where I had to runaway from home from an abusive, alcohol fueled man, to the women’s shelter here in Iqaluit and only to trade one hell to another where women who are homeless and shelter there and that depend on alcohol to escape pain cause more unnecessary emotional and mental abuse to those that are vulnerable and coping with abuse from their spouse.

Other factors and triggers like Grieving and self-esteem should be considered besides Trauma, PTSD and just maybe people will actually change for the better.

Instead of calling them liars, maybe they should consider the denial part.

The North needs more rehab centers, and counselors that can help with grief, trauma and depression.

#14. Posted by Nic on February 09, 2018

I think you are misunderstanding what is meant. Having spoken directly to the organizers, I can say this. They will be embrassing a Risk Reduction approach which has proven it’s worth over the years. The approach now is an AA approach that is focused on alcoholism as a disease, while the new approach is for people who use alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism for past trauma. Both aproaches are necessary depending on who you are dealing with.

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