Watch above: Rob For returned to Toronto City Hall, saying he’s a changed man after two months in rehab. But, do Torontonians want him back. Mike Drolet reports.
TORONTO – After an almost two-month stint out of office, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is returning from rehab Monday.
“It’s not easy to be vulnerable and this is one of the most difficult times in my life. I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence. I have struggled with this for some time,” the embattled Toronto mayor said in a statement just a day before he headed to rehabilitation in May.
“I have tried to deal with these issues by myself for over the past year. I know that I need professional help and I am now 100% committed to getting myself right.”
READ MORE: Rob Ford set to return from rehab Monday
But now that he’s back, taking on the city’s biggest job while in the spotlight and under public scrutiny as an election looms, Ford isn’t in the clear yet.
“You walk out of rehab on a high and you crash because you’ve changed and your life hasn’t. You have to build yourself back up on the outside,” addictions counsellor Mark Elliot told Global News.
“He’s going right back into the firing line. Counsellors wouldn’t recommend he’d come back as mayor – he needs to worry about himself, that’s what the first year of recovery is,” Elliot explained.
He suggests that Ford should stay out of the limelight, take on a job that’s less demanding and use the time to regroup.
Ford plans to resume his mayoral duties – curtailed by city council in November following his “drunken stupors” and crack-cocaine admissions – on Monday afternoon, according to a letter he sent to the city clerk’s office.
He’s also fighting for re-election. On Monday afternoon, he’s slated to speak to reporters.
Addictions experts said Ford was in for an uphill climb when he left for rehab.
“It’s about adapting to one’s life without the use of this substance. When a person has become dependent on drugs or alcohol, suddenly they’re trying to cope with what has become a crutch in their life and that comes with a whole range of coping strategies,” according to Paul McGary, director of Lakeridge Health’s Pinewood Centre.
Dr. Oren Amitay, a Toronto-based registered psychologist and Ryerson University instructor, says that overcoming an addiction is one of the most – “if not most” difficult – challenge to take on. And often, the process of getting over addiction is downplayed.
“Once you’re hooked, it’s all you think about. You have to stay away from all of the triggers and it’s a huge undertaking. It’s not as simple as saying I’m not going to drink,” he told Global News.
Amitay suggested in May that a few weeks in rehab may not be enough. Especially if Ford is throwing himself back into his high-stakes job.
“He’s not just going back to work. He’s going back to an extremely stressful, taxing campaign,” Amitay said.
“All of those things make it very difficult for anyone not to fall back on their old maladaptive coping strategies, which alcohol could be for him,” he said.
Once rehab is over, patients aren’t let off the hook either. As addicts reintegrate into their normal routines, they take on follow-up out-patient care that could be from three months to years. Alcoholics Anonymous, for example, is a lifelong membership, McGary notes.
– With files from the Canadian Press
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