A former drug addict is the face of the third video in a three-part series about overdose prevention that was released this week.
“This situation is more common than people realize. There’s a lot of addiction behind closed doors.”
Those are the words of Mike K., a Chilliwack man who is now sober after years of addiction.
The video he’s in is part of The Hidden Crisis series which was filmed in Chilliwack. The project was done by Pacific Community Resources Society (PCRS) and the three videos focus on the hidden population of users in the Eastern Fraser Valley – mostly married men aged 29 to 49 with children and adult children who live with their parents.
Mike is one of those people.
When he was a kid he was terrified about what people thought about him, he had a fear of failing at life. He started drinking and doing drugs as a teen and got relief from it.
As an adult, Mike turned to cocaine. It started as a social thing about once a month “just with the buddies,” he said.
“Not overnight, but a slow process, all of a sudden I’m locked in a room for days with the blinds closed and peeking out the corner,” Mike said. “My experience with cocaine was a real dark place.”
He smashed up cars, wouldn’t show up for work and could see the disappointment and pain he was causing his family.
“I am never doing this again. Ever,” he recalled saying to himself.
But he did. Over and over and over again. For years.
“That’s what addiction is all about. It’s a delusion. You’re in a lie.”
Eventually he lost his job and his family was gone.
“They cut all ties off at one point.”
Mike finally went into recovery.
“When I got into recovery and was maintaining sobriety and was working a program, everything came back like a magnet. Everything. The friends, the family, the job. Everything came back.”
That’s when he realized how much his family and friends loved him.
He said addicts are “not bad people, they’re just sick.”
“I think ultimately we want to change the stigma that’s attached both to the families and the substance users,” said Jodi Higgs, manager of Chilliwack Health and Housing Centre, which is part of PCRS.
She said they are hoping the videos give friends and family “the support they need to put their own emotion aside in order to walk alongside their loved one. That’s how the shame will be reduced.”
PCRS in Chilliwack (45921 Hocking Ave.) also offers in-person group sessions for family and friends, naloxone training workshops, one-on-one counselling and more. Call 604-795-5994 for more info, or 604-798-1416 to register for a free naloxone training workshop. Folks can also pick up free naloxone kits at that location.
Black Press recently put out an overdose prevention guide which can be picked up at the Chilliwack Progress office (104-45833 Alexander Ave.) and at the PCRS office (45921 Hocking Ave.). Or, read the entire guide through our e-editions page.