Former addict turned advocate, Kelly, will discuss treatment options for addicted individuals at a public information session on Nov. 30 at the Parksville Community Centre. - Karly Blats photo

Former addict turned advocate wants to educate public on treatment options

‘Our town is not understanding what addiction really is’

A former drug addict turned advocate wants to share her story of success and how she believes treatment is a fundamental solution to addiction.

Kelly, who asked not to use her last name, has organized a public education seminar on Nov. 30 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Garry Oakes room at the Parksville Community Centre.

A panel of speakers, who range from former addicts to treatment centre professionals, will present on treatment options available for addicted individuals, how to get help, first steps and their personal stories of how treatment worked for them.

“It’s to make our society aware of what drug addiction actually is,” Kelly said. “We’re going to bring up awareness of drugs and what is the stigma around drug addiction…this is about educating them on what’s out there.”

Kelly, who has four years of recovery, lived on the streets for many years deep in the throes of drug addiction. She attributes her recovery to getting into a rehab facility.

“I am the product of treatment and many others before me,” she said. “Treatment does work, it nourishes you back to health, it gives you rest, withdraws you off of opioids. They council you in there, they get you funding and they teach you the tools to have when you’re back outside.”

Kelly believes without treatment, addicts are going to continue to die.

“We have solutions to the problems but we’ve got a stigma attached to addiction, so our town is not understanding what addiction really is… I’m just going to be direct with them,” she said. “Maybe people can have some more compassion for those people who are still out there suffering if they understand what these people are facing. Maybe us as a community can band together and help these people instead of judging them and pointing the finger and kicking them more when they’re down.”

Kelly said there will a chance for the public to ask questions.

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