Erase the stigma
As an addict, one of the most difficult challenges that arose for me was “Where is a safe place to use?”
The stigma created by this community basically insists that our “safety” is at risk because the stereotype is that addicts steal, cheat and are a danger due to their appearance.
If we, as a community, stood together and erased the stigma, we could then begin to create, as a whole, a better understanding of addiction.
The Overdose Prevention Site is one of our best tools as a community. Addicts have been given a safe, warm resource filled with no judgment from others; however, the operational hours are only 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. We need more volunteers to come forth to open earlier in the day, leaving a larger safety window for people to use.
That being said, if the community was more aware of the monthly overdoses and had more understanding in regards to the opioid crisis and addiction as a whole, I feel as though more people would step forward and help this community get through this ongoing crisis.
We have so many resources in this town that hardly anyone is aware of. From Street Reach to naloxone training, the knowledge and resources are all here. If we could just step out of our comfort zones and obtain the information and training needed to offer a helping hand during this crisis, we may, as a community, be able to make a difference.
We are one of the communities in British Columbia suffering in silence from this crisis, and we need to all work together to get through this. If the stigma that has been created towards addicts could change and we all gained a better understanding, then more people would have the strength to come forward.
Another idea that I’ve been wrestling with is to create a support group for all those who are or who have suffered from addiction. Whether you are currently active in addiction or have been sober for decades, speaking to your peers openly and honestly, free from judgment, is so rewarding. Not being rewarded by the number of days sober, or eating a cake after a year: how about feeling proud and thankful for getting through another day, or sharing your good day with someone else? We all need to be heard. We all need to feel supported and valued.
I feel as though if each of us took a moment and really thought about the crisis at hand, we would come to realize that becoming more active in the community, learning how to help or about what we can do to fight the opioid crisis together would make a huge difference. Erase the stigma that has been created by others, take the training to learn how to use naloxone, and learn how to help lend a hand.
This interpretation of what a “drug addict” is has caused more damage to us all. Everyone needs a chance, everyone matters, and we need to end the way addicts of all shapes are viewed because then we will have a better chance of a brighter community.
Not all are lost
As a lifelong born and raised Squamish local, I can truly say I've seen it all, done it all and been through even more considering I grew up living with my grandparents basically my entire life.
You could say I had what most people would view as a pretty normal upbringing.
But I felt I had a reputation I had to live up to and was drawn to what drugs could bring me.
I eventually ended up dropping out of high school because I was so intrigued by the popularity, respect and mostly money I was making in the drug world.
Although I lived with my grandparents, I never had much discipline, which I can admit probably played a big part in the reason why not only did I get into selling drugs and making money but also doing a lot of drugs at the same time for so many years.
But I never considered it to be an issue because I always made sure I had my necessities taken care of until, finally, my drug usage slowly started to take over everything.
I got arrested multiple times, which led to me spending almost a year in jail for possession for the purpose to traffic and, in time, my demon caused me to lose not only myself but, most importantly, my son.
I did my time, but because I had lost all hope in myself as well as the one thing that means the most to me, I went right back to using drugs, being homeless and even more so feeling hopeless — mainly for the fact that I had been doing drugs for over half of my existence and not just that, but doing all of the drugs under the sun in every way shape and form for so long I thought I was never going to get away from the drug world, or more so, ever get to be a part of my son’s life again.
Miraculously, when I was literally at the end of my rope, I had given up and called it quits, there she was, this tiny amazing woman who came into my life without warning and just literally opened my eyes and stood beside me and helped me rediscover my worth.
She gave me the strength I needed to push forward. Since then, my life has brought me clarity and purpose. I've embarked on my journey and have been discovering my true self.
I am conquering my demons, I am standing strong, and I will not give up. This journey is not a walk in the park, but I will push through all obstacles not only for me but for my son, my greatest accomplishment. My little man.
These letters are part of an in-depth, provincewide journalistic effort by Glacier Media to examine the scope, costs and toll of the opioid and toxic drug crisis in British Columbia – a public health emergency that has taken at least 11,807 lives since 2016.If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911. If you need help with substance abuse, call the B.C. government's alcohol and drug information and referral service at 1-800-663-1441. It's available 24 hours a day.