Friday, November 23, 2012

Choice?? Not Bloody Likely!

I have been @ my parent's home for a while following the recent death of my brother and, I gotta tell you, I am ready to go back to my own damn home already. 

If I have to hear how my brother "chose his life" one more time, it is likely that I may scream.  I feel so stressed out from trying to suppress my emotions...   because that is status quo in this family.  Just stuff your feelings down inside and don't let anyone else know what going on.  I have chomped more Tylenol this week that I should say.

The ignorance spoken by a number of my relatives just astounds me -- NO one would choose addiction because it is a living hell.

I tried to talk to one of my close relatives about how much this statement about 'choice' bothers me - it's like an accusation and a harshly critical judgement all rolled up into a single derisive comment that shoots like an arrow into the deepest part of my heart.
I attempted to draw this analogy for 'choice'...

Imagine that you are at the top of a steep mountain where looking down all you see is sunlight gleaming off the snow and your nose is filled with the clean scent of nature and you are filled with excitement and anticipation.  You jump on your toboggan and push off with absolute glee.

At first, the ride is pure adrenalinized joy, but soon you realize that you cannot regulate the speed at which you are hurtling down a seemingly endless steep slope. What appeared to be a smooth surface of snow has just barely disguised dangerous jagged rocks and snarls of trees.

The ride has gone from fun to terrifying, and throwing yourself off the toboggan also seems like certain, painful death. 

You regret starting the ride, but if you had the strength to safely stop and get off the toboggan you would - you don't.  So you cling to the edges and try your best to avoid the worst while getting beaten from all sides by the bitter cold, the crushing jolts of pain from landing on rocks and bouncing off trees and being slashed with branches.
You're pretty sure you are going to die before this ride ends, but you can't see a way out of your predicament.

When you initially chose to jump on the toboggan you had no way to comprehend that a little sledding would turn into a terrifying, excruciating death or you wouldn't have grabbed the toboggan in the first place! 

Regret is something you live and die with, but it changes little when death is immanent and no help is forthcoming.

No one chooses to become addicted; every addict starts out confident that they can control their usage (whether it's cigarettes or liquor or gambling or heroin) and becomes enslaved by it instead.

Addiction is a hellish life, and it is a disease!! For God's sake people, addiction is a disease. Would you cluck @ & judge a person with MS or Parkinsons?

Some addicts, my brother among them, never find the strength within themselves or the support to free themselves from their chains.

For the love of God - don't sit it judgement of addicts. 
But for Grace, you or someone you love could be there too.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Goodbye Little Brother

RIP Danny G.
May 31, 1971 ~ November 4, 2012
Finally, you are released from your chains.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Drug Addiction - Asshats & Heroes: Part I

Not a pretty picture?  No arguments here.  

Drug Addiction - Asshats & Heroes: Part I

I have been a staunch supporter of Vancouver’s harm reduction clinic,  InSite, since its inception in 2003.  InSite is a government funded safe injection clinic in the heart of Hastings (Vancouver’s poorest downtown area) providing addicts with 
  •  complete new injection rigs every visit, 
  • a clean & safe environment in which to use their pre-obtained illicit drugs, and 
  •  professional, non-judgmental support by medical personnel, mental health workers, peer staff, and addictions counselors.
InSite is not just a safe injection site, it is also a free-choice path to recovery and a chance for sick people to reclaim themselves from addiction.

“InSite and Onsite are wrap-around programs that exist one above the other in the same Hastings Street location.  When clients, usually InSite users, are ready to access withdrawal management, they can be immediately accommodated at Onsite.  On the second floor of OnSite people have access to 12 rooms with private bathrooms where they can detox.  Mental health workers, counselors, nurses and doctors work together to help people stabilize and plan their next steps. People can then move up to the 3rd floor transitional recovery housing for further stabilization and connection to community support, treatment programs and housing.”

This multi-level, practical, and compassionate approach to dealing with the disease of addiction is what initially excited me about InSite, but it is something else that makes this subject evocative for me.  

His name is Dan.
Dan is a heroin addict in Hastings, Vancouver.
Dan is my little brother.  I have not seen him in 12 years; my parents have not seen him in ten.  

I travel to Vancouver every year, sometimes twice, & each time I troll some very dangerous streets seeking my brother, all the while knowing full well that I could be looking him right in the face and not recognize him at all.  

No one in my family knows that I have ever gone looking.

Every May I contact Vancouver's major crimes division and ask for confirmation of life.  Sadly, Dan is very well known; information on his current no-fixed address but still breathing status is easy to come by.  

Straight up - I am never sure how I should feel at the news. 
Because of my calls, when the beat cops in the lower eastside next see Dan, they might remind my brother to pick up a phone & collect call his mom & dad so that they can wish him a happy birthday. 

Some years he calls, some years he does not. 

But every year I thank God for InSite and all it's dedicated people, because my little brother has a much better chance to turn his life around, should he choose to do so, because InSite is there to help.   

*Blogger is frequently unco-operative with me... and many others.  With this in mind, and my firm intention to publish Part II within the week, reality is that the next installment of this series will appear when Blogger is good & damn ready.*