Will you step up if your addicted friend or family member calls for help?
CAMERON STOLZ At some point though they will hit some sort of bottom. That’s when friends and family truly matter. Cameron Stolz is a Prince George writer.
My mom would tell me when I was growing up in the Sunrise Trailer Park to watch out who my friends were. We had some great neighbors and friends. Truly good people. Then there were those who were the wrong crowd. The problem with hanging around with the wrong crowd is that they don’t want you to change, improve, or leave. They want you to remain as one of them: to keep doing what you’re doing and what they’re doing. As we’ve all seen through COVID, human beings are not meant to be alone. Sometimes though, in that desire for connection, acceptance and friendship, it ends up being with the wrong crowd. Maybe it’s at a house party or a with a few friends watching the game. Or perhaps you’re having a really hard time and it feels like nothing is ever going to get better and a friend wants to help you out. You’ve had a few drinks, or maybe gotten a little high. Or both. They offer you something you should try. I’m told that the first time you do, it’s the best experience of your entire life. A glorious feeling – better than any other. Ever. It’s meth and for $10 you get enough to get high two or three times. So cheap, teenagers can afford it. This isn’t the only way it happens. For some, it started with opioids. For others, it’s mental health challenges or trauma they have experienced, that lead them down the path of self-medication. Whatever the reason, the result is the same. In a short time span, they go from having a home, a job, a vehicle, and a bit of money in the bank, to couch surfing and hitting up friends. Eventually that welcome wears out and they are now on the street. Still chasing that ever elusive first euphoric high. Meth changes you. It’s made from chemicals, many of which are poisonous. Lately it’s being laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 20 times stronger than regular opioids, which causes overdoses and kills people. The side effects are deteriorating health and paranoia. For many, there are also bouts of being an angry and aggressive meth monster. While they are chasing that high, they won’t listen to anyone – partners, parents, or children. At some point though they will hit some sort of bottom. That’s when friends and family truly matter. If they only have family and friends who are the wrong crowd, they hit bottom and stay. Even if they manage to find their way into a treatment program and are able to complete it, they come out the other side with the same group of friends, the same social connections. Yet, we wonder why they relapse. The other ones have a loved one, a family member, or friend who will step up. When the vehicle shows up in front of their house and the driver says the one they care about has overdosed in the back seat and they rush to help, praying they’ll be okay. No one chooses to be an addict, to say “I’m going to throw everything away and live on the street.” For some when they hit that bottom, they are able to stop cold and with the help of their family and friends eventually return to the life they use to have. For women and youth who can’t do it on their own when they finally decide to seek help, there is nowhere in Prince George for them to go. There is no exit from the life they are living. However, it’s not just treatment facilities that are needed but also the support system for the men, women, and youth who complete their recovery. Support to help them reestablish their lives. To be productive and proud of themselves again. My mom was right; it matters who your friends are. Hopefully you’re one of the good ones if a friend of yours reaches out.