Stigmatization is one of the barriers for individuals stuck in the cycle of addiction and for family members seeking support for themselves and their loved ones. Understanding the deeper personal stories of those who use prescription and illicit drugs as well as those who gamble (some casually, others regularly), is one way of debunking slurs.
Revealing why people choose to try and continue using drugs or gambling is one way of understanding how addiction affects so many people in our community. They are someone’s son/daughter, husband/wife, father/mother, brother/sister, uncle/aunt, nephew/niece, cousin, grandchild.
Their Story is a space for those who are struggling (or have overcome) to share their stories and experiences. The interviews are compiled by Eileen MacLeod, a retired Kamloops resident who has a passion for social justice.
For privacy reasons, KamloopsMatters will not be publishing the identity of those who contribute to this column. If you or someone you know is interested in participating, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-572-0369.
What is your current shelter/where do you live?
Hopefully in a hotel/motel, soon enough. My husband and I are on the street.
What’s the first mind/mood-altering drug you used?
I think it was cocaine.
When did you start using drugs? What made you try it?
(I was) 14. ... Seeing friends do it. My mom being an alcoholic. I just did it to try it.
What are you currently addicted to?
Speed, crystal meth.
What benefits do you get from using drugs?
I've got FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder), which heightens my ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), so it actually calms my overwhelmness, my panic attacks. I can focus. I don't get overwhelmed and stressed out as easy. My anxiety calms down.
How have drugs impacted your life?
Not how I thought it would. It's impacted it not in a great way. I don't see my daughter as much. People look at me funny because I'm homeless, but yet, you know, you can't get a job unless you have a place; you can't get a place unless you have a job.
What was your life like before drugs?
I saw my daughter at least every week. I've only been here just a year. I just started using when I got here. I used to be crack head, actually.
How do you think society sees you?
They look down on me. They think they're better than me because they have money whenever they need it. They think they're so much better because they don't have an addiction.
How do you know they look down on you?
How they're rude to me. You can just tell, they're snobby towards you and they hold their chin up like they're better than you. And they discriminate by talking about things ... like the McDonalds downtown, for example. One day I was in there and the manager was talking to a couple of customers, and the customers go, "Oh, you should have some kind of security or something like that." She goes, "Oh, you know, I have a can of pepper spray at home but it's too big to bring in." They all start laughing. I turn around and said, "Excuse me, that was really offensive." And the customers said, "Well, she has to defend herself." I said, "Look around. Defend herself from what? What kind of threats do you see here?" Just because we're homeless doesn't mean we're dangerous. They laughed because they were talking about pepper spraying the homeless. That was just so offensive.
What, if anything, have you done to get help for your addiction?
I started to but I don't know, things changed.
It got closer and closer to my daughter's birthday and I hadn't seen her in a while.
Basically, you've never tried accessing any of the services for treatment?
Anything else you’d like to add?
I think I pretty much said it a couple of questions ago. Just because we're homeless doesn't mean we're dangerous. We're just the same as everybody else.
For more Their Story columns, click HERE.