The Addiction Worker And The Journey With Their Patients — Part 1

June 1st, 2016 / By Wendy Vanderstoep Addiction Worker Faculty Head and AW Program students, Mississauga campus.

It is a common societal misconception that we are adept at believing stereotypes and judgments based on the unknown—or fear thereof. The Addiction Worker program at triOS College enlightens and demonstrates how we can, together, become a part of the solution.

word addiction highlighted in pink

People who suffer from substance use disorders, mental health issues, and other challenges benefit from the work of addiction workers.


Dr. Gabor Mate states, “No society can understand itself without looking at its shadow side”, so is addiction a choice or is it an illness? For years there has been controversy over whether alcoholism was, in fact, an illness or simply a poor choice. The American Medical Association declared alcoholism an illness in 1956. Thus, medical professionals treat addiction as a disease, but often it is still viewed as a moral choice by society.

Students in the field of addiction often find themselves pontificating about why they chose to work with such a misunderstood population. No one answer will suffice as to why, but maybe the question we should ask is, why not? Single-handedly we cannot change the views of society, but by gaining the tools and experience, we can begin to encourage and support the process of overcoming misconceptions and stereotypes.

“We see that substance addictions are only one specific form of blind attachment to harmful ways of being. Yet we condemn the addict’s stubborn refusal to give up something deleterious to his life or to the life of others. Why do we despise, ostracize and punish the drug addict, when as a social collective, we share the same blindness and engage in the same rationalization”-Dr. Gabor Mate.

Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that the root of the issue is not the addiction, but the pain that is causing the addiction. An addiction worker will challenge you is to consider whether your thoughts, beliefs, and actions are contributing to the problem or engaging in the solution? In the inspiring words of Serge LeClerc, “Put it to the test…what are you afraid of…put it to the test!”

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Visit triOS College’s Addiction Worker program page to learn more.