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Rob Ford’s Death from Cancer More Acceptable than Addiction

Rob Ford, Mayor of Toronto from 2010 – 2014, has died at the age of 46 after battling an aggressive cancer. While in office, Ford had became the subject of ridicule for his antics while in office – specifically, his very public struggle with drugs and alcohol. During his active addiction, the public was quick to judge, poke fun, and chastise. In stark contrast, his death from cancer has triggered an outpouring of sympathy and compassion. As pointed out in a recent article on, apparently it is more acceptable to die from cancer than it is to live with addiction.

The Death Of Rob Ford

The difference in public sympathy towards Rob Ford because he died from cancer, and not the disease of addiction, is quite clear. Ford was under major scrutiny for his crack use back in 2013, but because he fought and lost to cancer, somehow the way we remember him now is courageous and determined.

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, posted this message on Twitter following Ford’s death: “Rob Ford fought cancer with courage and determination. My condolences and best wishes to the Ford family today”.

In no way is this an intent to say that fighting cancer is not difficult or courageous. In fact, it’s most definitely one of the most difficult diseases to combat, both physically and mentally. But why was Ford not as deserving of understanding, compassion, and admiration when he was trying to battle and ultimately recover from addiction? When his addiction was brought to public attention, he issued a public apology for embarrassing his city. Did he once apologize for his cancer? No. Because no one puts down the person who struggling to survive with cancer. But for the person struggling to beat their addiction, it’s a very different story.

A lot of the problem is that the world is more accepting of cancer as a disease, and believes that addiction is choice or a moral failing. As a result, when someone is struggling in the public eye with drugs or alcohol, the stigma that is associated with addiction causes more judgments and less compassion towards the person who is actually suffering from a real disease.

The fact that Ford had to be diagnosed with cancer for society to accept his past behavior and be so forgiving is sad. We need to change the way we look at addiction and really start treating it like the progressive, chronic, deadly disease that it is. The more we break the stigma of drug addiction and alcoholism, and put our focus on recovery and treatment, the less we are going to see people dying and suffering in silence because they are too scared to come forward and ask for help.

If you or someone you love is suffering right now from the disease of addiction, do not be ashamed, there are millions of Americans who have been where you are and have recovered. Do not let the stigma of addiction stop you from recovering. We understand and we can help. Call 1-800-861-1768 for more information on how recovery is a reality for addiction.

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