Crack Is Whack, Yo.

My friend Jo pointed out that I haven’t written about the Rob Ford situation. Or, more specifically, she said that she hoped I would – and I realized that maybe it would be better to write a blog post rather than just keep ranting about it at the dinner table while my children sit, patiently, waiting for a second helping of food.

It’s important to know, I guess, that I do not pay a lot of attention to politics and I pay even less attention to the political happenings in places other than where I currently reside. I vote, yes, and I certainly have opinions, but ultimately any reading I do about politics just results in me getting angry and ranty.

Even for me, it’s impossible to not know at least a bit about what’s been happening in Toronto.

Rather than try to sum up all the things going on since May of this year, I’ll just point you to this “timeline” provided by City News which will give you most of the main points.

The story that most people are interested in, of course, is the fact that Rob Ford smoked crack.

Cue the moral outrage!

A long while ago, Jo and I talked about crack use – and I asserted that it is absolutely possible for someone to smoke crack recreationally, much as it is possible for people to use any other drug recreationally – meaning that they are not ‘addicted’. Addiction is a really complex and complicated concept, but I’m going to stick with some of the commonly held perceptions of addiction for the sake of simplicity.

In my opinion, recreational drug use is exactly that – something done once in a while. I have a bunch of analogies that I like to bust out for this topic, but the gist is that it’s the difference between someone who has a beer ‘once in a while’ and your friend who drinks ’til they puke every night of the week and refuses to visit unless you guarantee you’ve got a fully-stocked beer fridge in your garage.

There are some people who cannot use alcohol, or any other drug, recreationally. They just can’t. There are also plenty of people for whom it is possible to smoke a little weed or drink a beer or, yes indeed, smoke a little crack on a Saturday night, without anything terrible happening. If they can’t do it for a few weeks or months, well, they just shrug and move on. It doesn’t mean that it’ll always be that way, of course.

It seems pretty apparent that Rob Ford has a problem. I’ve never met the guy, and I’m certainly not going to diagnose him myself, but his frequent self-confessed drunken blunders and his own statements about the various things he’s done over the years while being drunk, his DUI arrest, all point in the direction of a guy who’s in trouble.

But I would be truly surprised if somehow we learnt that Ford is addicted to crack. I would not be surprised to hear that he has smoked it more than one single time while in one of his “drunken stupors” (his words). Most of the people that I’ve met who are truly addicted to crack – or, more specifically, who are heavy users of it – spend a lot of time smoking it. The high doesn’t last more than 10-20 minutes so it requires you to use again fairly quickly to maintain that lovely feeling of euphoria.

My gut feeling is that Rob Ford will try anything he can get his hands on. He’s like a messy, stereotypical frat boy – drunk on his own power, drunk on too many beers, DUIs, assaults.. and not experiencing much in the way of consequences. Put something new in front of him and he’ll try it – while giving the finger to the camera and shouting, “FUCK YEAH!” at the top of his lungs.

I can’t compare Ford to my clients – except, perhaps, to those who are still in the early stages of their drug use. People who are still housed. Still with family or other supports around them. Still relatively healthy. There are very few of my clients in those shoes. I don’t work with people who are like Rob Ford. They don’t pop in to my outreach locations or call for delivery.

There have been comments about how Ford’s on a road to self-destruction – that his weight, his partying, his drug use, are all going to lead to his early death. To that I say: maybe. Who knows? I don’t think he’s healthy, based on what I know about him, but I also know that you can’t judge health by someone’s appearance. Hell, I have long said that my clients are going to outlive us all and many of them are living lives that are much harder than Ford’s. At the same time, he has money and that goes a long way toward keeping someone ‘okay’ – it’s easier to stay healthy if you’ve got good food, a safe place to sleep, and people tending to you.

I know absolutely nothing about his past – I don’t know what’s going on inside his head, or what he’s experienced, or what his life is like beyond what’s shown in the media. Until recently, I didn’t even know that he had kids. I can’t imagine how all of this has been for them – or for his wife. I don’t know if he has support in his life, or whether he has good coping skills to handle stress. I can make a few assumptions, but I won’t. What I can say, without question, is that he is not a man in a good place right now and he hasn’t been in a while.

As I ranted to my kids, over dinner, the fact that he smoked crack doesn’t matter to me at all. I literally could not care less about it. I can’t even get myself worked up about it being illegal. I’m not naive about what goes on behind closed doors. In fact, I’d almost prefer that the problem be crack.

But.. I do care that he lied. I care that he’s been involved in some seriously shady stuff over the years. I care that he has said incredibly racist things. I care that he has voted to defund programs that I consider to be very, very important. These are the things I judge him on. In fact, here are 113 other things on which I shall judge the shit out of that man.

I would like to say that I have empathy and compassion for Rob Ford – and, to some extent, I suppose that I do. He is a small child in a man’s body, stomping through Toronto like he’s Godzilla, throwing tantrums and indulging his every whim (while lying, poorly, in an attempt to cover his tracks). He is aware, on some level, that he is in trouble but I really don’t think he’s capable of admitting it and getting help. I don’t think he’s interested. The road to getting that help is long and full of hard work. The road to healing is even longer and harder. I wonder if any of this is fun for him anymore.

Self-destruction is really hard to watch. It’s uncomfortable. In Ford’s case, some of it has also been hilarious – like watching Chris Farley on SNL, stumbling over furniture, sweating, and gasping. It’s a strange feeling to laugh and be horrified at the same time. I don’t know that he’s physically self-destructing, but he’s certainly working to dismantle his credibility and professionalism and the perception people have of him,

It would be nice if someone would help the man out. It would be nicer, still, if he would get the hell out of office so the destruction could finally end.

(For the newcomers – hello! Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts, below!)


  1. Jo says:

    VERY enjoyable read. I remember that conversation, I had no idea that someone could be a social crack smoker. Then somehow I found my way over to and found out that some users never get ‘treatment’ just wean off on their own, holding down day jobs and everything. Imagine that.

    I am sooo glad you added your two cents to the day’s news. I love your writing, and appreciate your unique insight into this.

  2. Sylvain says:

    It’s funny you brought up Chris Farley. Ford has always reminded me of Farley. And no, I would not be surprised if died the same way.

  3. Chz says:

    I think the fuss over a bit of crack is a bit silly when it’s his nascent alcoholism that’s obviously the bigger problem.

    But yes, it would have been an awfully different story if he’d just said “Yup, smoked a bit of crack there. Not going to do it again. Sorry.” in the first place. He’d still be a waste of space, but at least a bit less of a lying weasel.

  4. Monika says:

    You’re spot on, Violet! The most offensive thing to me is that he’s lied so blatantly throughout!! I don’t really care what a politician or person in public life does in his/her private life, so long as they are not hurting other people. But Ford’s tenure as mayor of Toronto has been a circus virtually since the beginning; he obviously holds no regard whatsoever for the position he holds, nor for the fact that he has become a laughing stock in media around the world. And while his behaviour and lying anger me, I also find that I feel incredibly sorry for the fact that he is so totally out of control, and that he seems to be so totally surrounded by enablers! I, like you, hope that Ford finally comes to see that he is an alcoholic (and perhaps an addict) and that he steps out of public life and goes for treatment in the very near future.

  5. Veronica says:

    I enjoyed reading this piece.I always learn new things from you Violet! For me I just wish the Ford drama would come to an end. I think there are more important things to do than watch a train wreck unfold in slow motion. The instant he said he has nothing more to hide I knew everyone with a cell phone and a bad picture/video would be lining up to kick him him just a little more. Its hard not to judge someone when you continue to see the worst side of them. I’ve never been an fan of his conservative politics and I’m glad I don’t live in Toronto. I wish the media would expend this much time and energy on something positive… but I guess that just doesn’t sell.

  6. Bronwyn MayB says:

    Brilliantly written. I feel the same way. Crack or no crack, it’s the lying and racism and shady shit. Well done.

  7. Chris says:

    Well said.

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