Insite helped me battle drug addiction and win

I have used drugs since 1991, and started injecting them in 1997.
 
I used in back alleys, all day and every day. I became consumed by heroin and truly believed that there was no hope for me.
 
Heroin was my friend. It never judged me; it was always warm and made me feel like I could do anything. The Downtown Eastside is a tough place for anyone, but it is one place where everyone who doesn’t fit in is accepted, and I fit right in.
 
I’m one of the lucky ones who escaped without catching HIV even after using in the dirtiest of places, but when you’re addicted, you don’t care about health. Most people would use others needles, share hits of drugs but I always thought it wasn’t worth it so I used my own stuff, never sharing.
 
In the late 1990s to early 2000s, things became so bad in the DTES that overdoses and HIV were spreading at a rapid pace. There were handfuls of people handing out clean needles, but most people would just share and it began to look pretty terrible for all addicts downtown.
 
In 2003 Insite came into the picture and I was one of the first people to sign up. They preached of a safe environment and a place where you can use in safety. In 2009, 484 overdoses occurred there with no fatalities.
 
I learned so much from the staff there. I finally felt like someone cared, and you could really feel the love. In a place where it seemed impossible to get clean, people now had the choice to change their lives.
 
If you ever wanted help, it was right upstairs. I have been a part of the recovery program at Onsite on more than one occasion, and every time I started using again, they never judged me. They would always say: “Next time, you’ll do it.”
 
In fact, Insite saved my life on three occasions, twice in one day. I did a lethal dose of heroin and was dead for six minutes and 53 seconds. The nurse Sara brought me back and I remember waking up and crying, telling her I didn’t want to use anymore.
 
So back upstairs to Onsite treatment I went. What people often don’t understand is how hard recovery can be, and I left once again. The staff at Onsite still supported me; they never gave up on me even when I gave up on myself.
 
In December 2012, I became suicidal and lost my desire to live. A nurse at Insite named Cookie took the time out of her day to calm me down and it was her kind words that inspired me to give it another try.
 
So the journey began again and I stopped using on March 18, 2013. I’m currently in a treatment center and this is the most work I have ever done on myself.
 
It is because of God and Insite/Onsite that I am where I am today. If they didn’t exist in my life, I wouldn’t be here, and neither would many others.

The people who work there care so much about human life, from the front desk all the way down to the chill room. They give hope to people who live and struggle with addiction.
 
They care if you use, they care if you want to get clean, they care about you, period.
 
They give you options and choices and it is up to you, but at least the choice is there. Before Insite and Onsite, there was no choice but to use or die. Society puts so much emphasis on the fact that drug users are bad, but we are human beings.
 
Doesn’t everyone deserve the right to get clean or to use in a safe environment with the support of kind staff who will break their backs to help you? You see, compassion is the answer.  Never give up on someone because you never know when your kind gesture might inspire them to get clean.
 
I know it worked for me, and it can work for countless others. I think Onsite is the best thing that has ever happened to Vancouver and I would go to any length to support them. They inspired me to get my life back.

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