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Hart Peikoff


by Hart Piekoff, written Nov 30 2012, posted March 6, 2013

[Editor's note: Next week I will be publishing an article I have written on  Rabbi Shais Taub's presentation on addictions sponsored by JCFS, JACS and Chabad, which was an evening dedicated to the memory of Hart Piekoff. This article which was wrtten by Peikoff in the form of  a rough draft has been in my inbox since November 30, 2012, awaiting my editing. Unfortunately, I am so behind that I have only had a chance now to properly give it the editing attention it deserved, and add in the full context of the Globe and Mail article that Peikoff writes about below. The article is being published now in  Hart's memory. He would have wanted readers to know that JACS ( a self- help Jewish 12 step support group for recovering alcoholics and addicts put on by the Jewish Child and Family Services meets every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. 1077 Grant Avenue, downstairs, [ contact JACS at 204 478-9591].

Addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, prescription medication and sex is rampant in our society. With respect to Drugs and Alcohol these substances are primarily responsible for crime in our city; perpetuating poverty and driving the homeless to find relief from loss of hope and emotional pain. It is hard enough to get off using if you have a roof over your head. Being a street person increases the difficulty. This disease does not pass by the doors of any socioeconomic group. People living in the most affluent areas of our city suffer as well. 
I have been asked to return to visit the students at the Gray Academy to share stories on what can happen when one makes the wrong choice. You end up living the life you chose by trying innocently when a friend offers you some substance and if wired with an addicted body, mind and soul you are in danger of enslavement from which an individual is generally unable to extricate oneself without help. And even with professional help often one requires long term treatment and if they are not able to receive it then the issue becomes a revolving door: two weeks in and two weeks out and this dance often continues. Research now suggests that addiction - whether it's alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex - involves several brain regions and the neurocircuitry governing reward, motivation, memory and impulse controls, according to Dr. Raju Hajela, a Calgary physician, who drafted the definition of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

As an article in th e Globe and Mail outlines, Hajela and the American Society of Addiction Medicine are of the view that addiction is not an expression of bad behaviour or a lack of will power. It’s a chronic brain disorder. . 

Fifty long years of using drugs and alcohol took its toll on me physically, emotionally and mentally. The amazing thing is that I am still alive to tell my story. I am proud, not ashamed of allowing my story to be told, because I hope others will see what I had to go through and understand ... that drugs and alcohol are not the best medicine for life's problems.
And supposedly the reason you cannot stop is that you have this altered brain circuitry, the good Dr. Hajela explains in the Globe and Mail article. "The disease creates distortions in thinking , feelings and perceptions, which drives people to behave in ways that are not understandable to others around them," he said.

According to Hajela, Addicts can overcome their affliction. “Choice still plays an important role in getting help,” Dr. Hafela said. “While the neurobiology of choice may not be fully understood, a person with addiction must make choices for a healthier life in order to enter treatment and recovery,” he told the Globe and Mail.


I though do not believe one abandons 12 step programs. This new way of addressing Addiction can run parallel to 12 steppers. Chemicals prescribed by a professional can assist too. However, self medicating is dangerous and often individuals overdose not commit suicide. There is significant physical addiction that takes place as is evidenced by the withdrawal symptoms of severe depression, fatigue, etc. The secondary psychological addiction is huge--which is the fear of coming down, or the fear of withdrawal. 
What is so important to assist the diseased human beings to ease into wellness is education excelling into the fast lane with information which will eventually allows young and old alike to understand more deeply what the effect this legal drug (and illegal ones too) have on the self. This mindset and marketing tool must be brought forth on a consistent basis in the same way general marketing is done. However, caution is suggested when an educational program walks the line of preaching. Most addicts or abusers or simply users of alcohol tune out when this occurs. 
Those who are drinking alcohol and using other drugs to kill emotional pain will go to all means to get their hands on the drug of choice; and if the choice is not available they will use a substitute. So the slant towards education is imperative.

And when we all learn to allow our intellect to control our emotions we have a more reasonable opportunity to avoid killing our self or someone else. Remember this does not happen without "a struggle." In fact, anything coming too easily to most humans is lost in space as quickly. I hope and pray readers turn to many "help programs" if they are abusing. Start at JACS or the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba

And if you are fortunate to come from a well off family financially and you truly want to quit using more than life itself then book yourself into a private treatment centre for a minimum of one month and if affordable; three months is far better. Make certain when you leave you have set up a realistic workable follow up plan. If not you are in danger of slips. 
I was a dry drunk for 15 years. I did not use any substances but did not work on the "hole in my soul." So my behavior did not change.


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