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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Thank you

Thank you for sharing your story. I hope it makes people who don't support Insite see the value of it and how it helps people, both on the short and long term. While it isn't the answer to all the issues in the DTES, it is one of the pieces.

Good luck with your journey. 

It's a wonderful story but

It's a wonderful story but where did the money for the drugs come from? If he earned the money himself good on him - but for the majority the drug money comes from the proceeds of crime and society does have a right to protect itself.

If Insite is really about getting people off drugs then the cost of the drugs should be provided and paid for out of the public purse in steadily decreasing amounts. If it's NOT about getting people off drugs then it's about facilitating these folks going on preying off the public to pay their pushers to get their drugs.

This is a question the Insite proponents have been avoiding - I'm all for paying for their drugs if it's part of a transition to getting them clean but if it's allowing people to go on using without any attempt to get them clean - that's not something I'm interested in using my hard-earned tax dollars to pay for.

Too many prey on the public to get the money to buy drugs - I'm all for helping those who want to get clean but those who choose to go on using - I'm not in favor of supporting that.

Good points NSB......but,

North Shore Blogger wrote:

It's a wonderful story but where did the money for the drugs come from? If he earned the money himself good on him - but for the majority the drug money comes from the proceeds of crime and society does have a right to protect itself.

If Insite is really about getting people off drugs then the cost of the drugs should be provided and paid for out of the public purse in steadily decreasing amounts. If it's NOT about getting people off drugs then it's about facilitating these folks going on preying off the public to pay their pushers to get their drugs.

This is a question the Insite proponents have been avoiding - I'm all for paying for their drugs if it's part of a transition to getting them clean but if it's allowing people to go on using without any attempt to get them clean - that's not something I'm interested in using my hard-earned tax dollars to pay for.

Too many prey on the public to get the money to buy drugs - I'm all for helping those who want to get clean but those who choose to go on using - I'm not in favor of supporting that.

I had a doctor (who was involved in outreach services and done some work with Insite) who has the numbers crunched and found that one politician (take any politician's position)'s wages would be (in a year) more than enough to supply every drug user in Canada. THE FACT is, drugs are CHEAP to make, where the problem comes is from distribution and smaller dealers cutting the product with something else (like glucosomine or, in the bad cases, draino) in order to make their "buck".

Pharmacies could make pure heroin for the population of the cities it exists in, for less a year than the cost of one policeman paid to stamp out drugs.

Now, I'm not saying that drugs are good, or that one shouldn't try to stay off, but the facts also remains that it's our government and far right-side political "spectrum" that has spurned negative attitudes about "people" who use drugs.

I've know a heroin user that has NEVER been clean since before his 24th birthday, and it's been 20 odd years since and he still uses, but he also works full-time and has not EVER had a criminal record.

Can't judge all the apples in the basket based on a couple bad ones... same can be said of our illustrious RCMP.

 

 

drugs....

Good on you Guy, best to you mate, never stop trying for that is truly quitting yourself.

Such a waste watching people who I've known for years go down the hard-drug route... the devastation to families and loved ones.. noone "understands" how people could "that" to themselves and those they care about.

The worst drug I've seen in all my 48 years, is alcohol.
 My father was upstanding (til he drank) same as mom, I'm fun for a bit but if the wrong crowd comes around I get owlly and negatively focused. My sister's both puked their heads off and one gave up the "devils nectar" for good (except wine at communion).

The drug that's "allowed", alcohol, causes more pain/grief/anguish/destruction/death than that collectively amongst the "hard" drug users.

And we're ok with that? Must be, alcohol is "legal".

Is it because of the "illusion" of "having fun while having drinks" is pumped at us in commercials and adverstising everywhere.. that allows the public to feel "good" about drinking, but we're ok with harping on a select few individuals (makes us feel good?) who do something "WE" don't like, yet the legal drug never feels the wrath of society.. why is that?
For example, the riots of the Stanely Cup game 2 years ago, was NOT fuelled by heroin or hard drugs (in the majority) but rather alcohol.

Never saw a "heroin-fuelled riot" before, and nor will I.

Again, just to reiterate, I'm not saying it's "good" to do drugs (of any kind), but really, is NEGATIVE focus on "insite/onsite" going to help?

In a word, NO.

Instead, how about more compassion for those who use something harmful (mostly unwillingly after the addiction kicks in) and want a better way without judgement and belittlement.

Your Uncle, or father or mother or sister or brother could be a drinker... that's the real starter.

Solution? I don't think there is one, other than having appropriate facilities in place that can deal with the outfalls of ALL drugs.
That, and legalizing drugs so to take the criminality out of personal usage which would free up all that taxpayer money keeping people in prison (rougly $85K - $120K/year per inmate), paying those lucrative bonuses and paychecks of CEO's of the newly (on the way to) privitizated Penal system.

 

 

Addiction!

Dr. Candace Pert was the reseach expert who discovered that humans are hard-wired for addiction. Humans like to feel good and will use most anything to help them get feeling good; it can be alcohol, tobacco, heroin, religion, politics, sex, gambling et cetera. If whatever-it-is makes us feel good a human will do it again and again and again. Thanks for Insite and the dedicated people who help others that have succumbed to addiction. Dr. Pert's book called "Molecules of Emotion" is a riveting read. Thanks Insite, thanks Dr. Pert. We are all addicted to something - people just don't like to think of it as addiction.

Thank you for this story.

If there ever was a story that showed the compatibility of harm reduction and recovery it is this one. The ridiculous notion that harm reduction and recovery are somehow incompatible principles and that one must prevail over the other is frankly dangerous and taken to it logical conclusion would mean stories like this one would not be possible.