Five recovering young addicts shared their stories on Thursday at the Parksville Community Centre, in an effort to shed light on what addiction is truly like in the city, and what needs to change to help combat the issue.
Dozens of people attended the event, put together by local advocate Kelly Morris, who has stressed the need for a 24-hour shelter in the community.
One person who shared their story was 17-year-old Niki, who has been sober for a year, after spending much of her earlier teen years battling methamphetamine and heroin.
She said she was lucky enough to have a great childhood, friends and family. She stressed to the audience that people suffering from addiction don’t all come from one place, and that a slew of reasons can cause someone to start using.
“Finally one day it clicked,” said Niki. “I realized what I had done to my family, and pushed everyone away.”
Niki stayed at a youth recovery centre in Campbell River for seven months, and has since gone back to school and built trust back up within her family.
“I left there being a lot happier than I was before,” she said. “I was just overjoyed that all these people were here to help me and that I had someone to fall back on.”
23-year-old Sam also spoke at the event, who told her story outside of a 12-step program for the first time. She went from using at age 11 to getting through a recovery program in Courtenay, run by a former addict.
“I can say that I’m actually happy, I have healthy friends, I have family members that truly love me, my life is worth living,” Sam said. “I want to see everybody’s faces.”
There were a few overall messages from the night. Speakers emphasized the importance of detox, low-income housing and community empathy towards people suffering from addiction.
After hearing from the panel, Morris said their stories show a demand for more resources — and the attentive audience showed a compassionate community.
“We do need help in this town,” Morris said. “I know how loving this town is, they helped put me back together.”