Finally confirming rumors that have been swirling for months, Toronto mayor Rob Ford recently acknowledged using crack cocaine during a “drunken stupor” while serving in office. Although Ford has promised not to do it again, here is why his admission hurts anti-drug efforts.
A Public Spectacle
Ford, who has appeared in public on multiple occasions in a clear state of intoxication, also appeared in a video that showed him inhaling crack through a clear glass pipe with Toronto-area drug dealers, one of whom died after falling from an apartment building, according to The Globe and Mail. He has weaved drunkenly through Toronto festivals, tossed liquor bottles out of his car, urinated in public, and been caught screaming and cursing while obviously high. Nevertheless, Ford insists he does not have a problem and maintains that he will let the voters decide in 2014 whether or not they want to reelect him to the post of mayor.
Setting an Example
Although it is clear to most that Mayor Ford has a serious substance abuse issue, by refusing to resign to get help he is setting a poor standard of behavior for Toronto and beyond. A person who becomes an elected official has a higher responsibility to safeguard the reputation of his city; by repeatedly acting beyond the bounds of what is commonly regarded as acceptable behavior for anyone, and especially for a mayor, Ford is unable to build or even maintain Toronto’s reputation. Fair or not, becoming an elected official means holding oneself to a higher standard of accountability, not just for one’s own health and well-being, but also as an example that constituents should follow.
By perpetuating the myth of the “successful” or “functioning” addict Ford is undermining anti-drug efforts and demonstrating falsely to impressionable people that doing drugs and drinking to excess in public has no real consequences. It is time for Mayor Ford to get himself the help for alcohol and cocaine addiction that he so clearly and desperately needs — before it is too late.