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Their Story: 'I lost my son and have been homeless for five years now'

used needle on street
(via Shutterstock)

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 or call 250-572-0369.

Age: 23

Gender: Male

What is your current shelter/where do you live?

On the streets.

Do you stay in the shelter?

No. I just go wherever I can.

What was the first mind-altering drug you used?

Weed. I was maybe 14. I was drinking around the same time.

What made you try it?

People I was hanging around with, I guess. 

What are you currently addicted to?

Crystal meth and heroin.

What age did you become addicted to crystal meth and heroin?

I started speed about five years ago and heroin about two years ago. I started smashing dope (using needles) as well, two years ago.

What benefits do you get from using drugs?

None, really. I'm happy for the time being, but after (the high) is gone, I'm back to being depressed. 

What does that depression feel like?

I feel like no one likes me. I feel like I'm useless. I got my son, who's six years old, and I barely ever get to see him. (Drugs) kind of cover everything up. It doesn't deal with anything.

How have the drugs impacted your life?

It's got me further away from my family. I lost my son and have been homeless for five years now. It's changed my life for the worse. 

What was your life like before you used drugs?

I had my son home with me. I had a job. I always had a place. I had my wife. Everything was good. 

How do you think people see you as a drug addict?

I think they judge me. They look down on me, like I'm just a piece of shit. That's how I feel. We get judged everywhere we go, even if we're not doing anything wrong. I go to McDonalds and I get banned just because...I fell asleep for five minutes? I'll go in a store and I'll get followed around. 

So you feel stereotyped, that you're a drug addict therefore you're a thief?

Yeah. Like we're too poor to be somewhere. I went to an ATV store out in Valleyview the other night, and me and buddy got followed. The guy was right on our hip. Like why? We don't have 10 grand to spend on an ATV so get followed or something? 

What have you done, if anything, to get help for your addiction?

I've done relapse prevention. I've done VisionQuest. I've seen a social worker. I've been to detox. I'm currently going back to detox.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

One of the big problems is that we don't have somewhere to go 24/7 for help. If we need cleans (needles) at night, we can't get it. Then we're stuck using dirties and there's no safe place to go do dope. We need something that's open 24/7. It's all during the day, and if you don't make it in time, you're out of luck for the night.