International Summer University in Social Work 

A journey through the addiction quagmire: linking the personal to the socio-political

Prof. Deborah O’Connor — UBC

Statistics are emerging that suggests that the number of deaths related to opioid addictions in North America now surpass those related to motor vehicle accidents. In August, 2013, these statistics became very personal when my eldest son died from a drug overdose.... he was living in a 2nd stage recovery home at the time, excited about the prospect of welcoming his unborn daughter into the world, and desperately committed to staying clean so that he could be a good father. He had been struggling with substance-use/abuse related issues for over twelve years. As a mother, I spent those years alternating between feeling helpless as I watched things spiralled further and further out of control, committed to finding a path that would allow me to be a support to my beloved son, and drawing on my social work skills to take on a system that clearly wasn’t working. In this presentation, I will be talking about this journey through the quagmire of addiction. Using an ethics of care framework, my goal is to critically examine how our societal treatment lenses create unspoken and unacknowledged ethical issues and tensions that invariably further stigmatize those with substance abuse issues and their family.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
  • Buchman, D., J. Illes & P. Reiner (2011) The Paradox of addiction neuroscience. Neuroethics 4, 65-77.
  • Duff, C (2015) Governing drug use otherwise: For an ethics of Care. J. of Sociology 5(1), 81-89.
  • Strike, C., A. Guta, K. De Prinse, S. Switzer & S. Chan Carusone (2014) Living with addiction: the perspectives of drug using and non-using individuals about sharing space in a hospital setting. International Journal of Drug Policy, 25, 640-649.
  • Wakeman, S., T. Green, & J. Rich (2014) From documenting death to comprehensive care: Applying lessons from the HIV/AIDS epidemic to addiction. The American Journal of Medicine. 127(6), 465-466.