TORONTO — Addiction specialist and U.S. media personality Dr. Drew Pinsky, who has counselled a number of celebrities with alcohol and drug issues, says Toronto Mayor Rob Ford needs to take time off to deal with his health.
“This poor gentleman has rather significant alcoholism,” said Pinsky, who is known on TV and radio as Dr. Drew.
“He doesn’t deserve to be maligned. He deserves the opportunity to go get help and take care of his medical condition, not work for awhile — probably a month or so — and really get with this and get going.”
Pinsky, who has not met Ford, said he is basing his professional opinions on media coverage and the mayor’s own statements about alcohol and drug use.
“He clearly is suffering right now and that suffering can be managed and treated. He can have a flourishing life again but he has to be willing to give up the alcohol,” Pinsky said in an interview with Maurie Sherman that aired Wednesday on The Roz & Mocha Show on KiSS 92.5.
“The crazy thing about alcoholism is it distorts your priorities so much that you’d rather die and lose your job and lose your family than contemplate stopping your relationship with this substance that you literally love.”
Pinsky said Ford appears to be a textbook alcoholic.
“He was drinking sufficiently to be in a stupor, which is not a normal relationship with alcohol,” Pinsky noted. “He’s drinking sufficiently to have consequences — work consequences, probably relationship consequences, probably medical consequences. You only need to have consequence in one of those spheres to meet criteria for alcoholism.”
After his surprise admission on Tuesday that he had smoked crack, Ford insisted he didn’t lie and reporters had simply not asked the right question.
“The obfuscation he’s maintaining is almost funny,” said Pinsky. “What addicts always do when they’re not lying, they’re obfuscating. Denial is a defining feature of this condition.
“To say ‘I was a stuporous drunk but I’m not an addict’ is a nonsensical phrase.”
Asked if it’s possible to smoke crack only once, Pinsky replied: “It’s pretty uncommon. It’s not a drug of recreation.”
But, he added, the citizens of Toronto should not focus on what substances Ford has used.
“It shouldn’t concern you. What should concern you is he’s doing enough to need an opportunity to go get help. Don’t worry about the specifics.”
Instead, Pinsky advised the people close to Ford to help him.
“I’m sure he’s in a lot of pain,” said Pinsky. “I’m sure when he starts to look at the wreckage that his condition has caused it’s going to hurt even more.”
Pinsky said the mayor’s family — including Ford’s trusted brother Doug — need to take action.
“Families know long before the identified addict or alcohol believes their family knows. By the time they come clean to their family, the family knew a long time ago that there’s an issue,” said Pinsky. “Let’s everybody go to Al-Anon and let’s get an intervention on this poor man and let’s get him put back together.”