Your city on drugs: Winnipeg needs to rethink approach to dealing with abuse – Manitoba

“This is your brain on drugs.”

You might remember that phrase from the late 1980s, when it hit TV screens across North America as part of a large-scale public awareness campaign spearheaded by Partnership for a Drug-Free America. 

It was also part of a decades-long fight against drug abuse that continues to this day, as we see new drugs in Winnipeg, as elsewhere — including methamphetamine and fentanyl.

The media ads and posters in the “your brain on drugs” campaign featured two eggs frying in a pan, and promoted the idea that drugs fry the human brain in a similar fashion.

How well did that message work? And how well are the latest efforts at solving problem drug use working?

I am a child of the 1980s, who grew up in a seemingly “normal” white middle-class family, with a highly accomplished professional father and a very devoted mother who quit her job as a nurse to be the primary caregiver to her children. However, the difficulties of unrecognized, untreated mental illness affected our family dynamic deeply.

As an adolescent, I turned to internet pornography and compulsive sexual behaviour in order to cope with the pain I experienced growing up as a highly sensitive child in an emotionally volatile environment. Around the age of 25, I experienced my first prolonged period of clinical depression toward the end of my work on a master’s degree. It was at that point that I discovered crystal meth, and very quickly became addicted.

House for homeless Winnipeg men celebrates first year of success2:26

Looking back, now aged 36, I can see that I was medicating my emotional pain with drugs. Today I have a diagnosis of bipolar Type 2 disorder, and I am getting appropriate treatment from a psychiatrist.

Receiving this treatment only became possible because I was provided with a supportive place to live after becoming homeless because of my drug addiciton. Morberg House, the transition home in St….

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