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Their Story: Wildfire evacuee grapples with meth addiction and homelessness

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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. It's also a space for family members struggling with addiction within their family. 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 (family members included), email info@kamloopsmatters.com or call 250-572-0369.

Age: 50

Gender: Male 

Where do you currently live?

Right now, my girlfriend and I are both homeless. We've been on the streets since the wildfires. We were evacuated last year on July 10, so a full year and then some. 

In the summer we've had tents and in the winter we make makeshift shelters wherever we can and then stay in the shelter she works at twice a week. 

What was the first mind-altering drug you used?

It would have to be pot. 

What age?

Twelve.

What made you try it?

Everybody was doing it, I guess. I can't even remember the first time. I think it might have been out at a friend's when we were camping. 

What are you currently using?

Crystal meth only.

What benefits do you get from using crystal meth?

Benefits? It's more of a social environment. I guess alertness would be a benefit.

Does it help you function better?

Well, at the point where you've been using too much of it and you're officially dependent on it, for not being cranky, keeping your concentration up, and stuff like that...

So it allows you to focus and have your mood more stable?

Yes, for sure.

How has using drugs impacted your life?

Tremendously. I had a large cocaine habit and that was with crack, and that was for years. I literally just grew out of it. I diamond drilled for years. After starting crack, I blew a lot of money on it. I was making good money diamond drilling. It was just destructive. Then in 2012, I went back to university and got my bachelor of business degree in marketing. Halfway through that, I started using meth, just to give it a try. I would say, honestly, the effects of meth on my life compared to cocaine...minimal. 

For some people, I can see it being completely destructive and I don't want to rule myself out. I just think right now, (my drug use) is recreational at best.

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

I try and stay out of the limelight. I think I might be a bit of an anomaly. I find myself in positions where I don't feel desperate, and I can get myself out of them. I just wonder how I got myself into them. 

Have you done anything to get help for your addiction?

Oh yeah. Well, not presently. In the past, I've successfully completed the residential recovery (program) here at the mission. Kind of walked away from cocaine right after that. I don't drink. I don't use anything consistently other than the meth.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Just that our position now of being on the streets officially, or homeless...it's just amazing once you're homeless. It's more expensive to live on the street day to day than just to live in an apartment. Just to go in to sit somewhere to get warm, or you have to buy a coffee...honestly, daily, we're spending more money. That puts people in a position, I think, of where do they get the money? And all that makes it a marginal situation. 




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