"Why I Help Addicts Shoot Up"–The Lecture (UPDATE)

Meera Bai and I spoke in person on our reasons to support InSite, Vancouver’s safe injection site that got a stay of execution from the Supreme Court of Canada yesterday last week.

We have written about it and Meera’s given several interviews on the subject. Because other cities are considering it (Ottawa was in the news today in that regard), we wanted to press the case further to defend InSite and commend its model to others.

The lecture is here–albeit with some audio/video difficulties along the way.

0 Responses to “"Why I Help Addicts Shoot Up"–The Lecture (UPDATE)”

  1. Paul

    These articles demonstrate some important issues on the subject.


    You should also read: Destructive trends in Mental Health: the well intentioned path to harm.


    The Supreme Court decision is a great disappointment, but not a surprise. Just another facet of the Canadian Criminal Enablement culture.

    cheers, Paul

    • John Stackhouse

      In the previous weblog post I wrote about addicts, Brother Paul raises a number of his concerns on the issue and they receive replies from Meera and me. Lots of other people raise questions in the 60+ comments on that post, so may I refer people to that–and may I ask commentators not to repeat their material here.

  2. Matt McCoy


    Thank you for the suggestion to go back and read the post from last year. I’m looking forward to attending the lecture, and by reading that post many of the questions I would have for you have already been answered (or at least I have an idea of your perspective).

    The ethical tensions presented by the work of InSite is heart breaking, and I greatly appreciate your comments from last year’s post about the inability to use analogies for a situation like this. You seem to argue that, with this program, Meera is doing something that is impossible to use as paradigm which can be replicated for other aspects of life.

    When I owned a construction company, nearly all of my employees had chemical dependency issues, and I would have loved to refer them to a place like InSite. On the other hand, I am still deeply troubled at the thought of entering the darkness of drug addiction in this particular manner. So I remain undecided and look forward to learning more from those who walk a very hard road.

    Many thanks for putting this together,


  3. Ross Banister

    Your presentation with Meera closed the disconnect that often occurs between the science and theology of addiction prevalent among our evangelical family. Your presenation was skillful and authentic. I left inspired!

  4. Nick Yelland

    Hi, my name is Nick Yelland, I am a recovering drug addict/alcoholic, 5 and a half years clean and sober, after 30 years of drug addiction, wanting to share my story, so that persons as yourself will understand an addict and stop enabling “us”, insight is a addicts best friend, saying it is okay to use. I grew up in a “normal” household, middle-class, parents rarely drank, there was no physical abuse toward my mum, or vice versa. it was a strict English home, where children were seen and not heard, a boy was not allowed to cry or have any emotion, you had to be “a man” even as a child. There wasn’t much hugging, “I love you”, encouragement, or praise, and never any mention of God. My earliest childhood memories I felt like I didn’t fit, I wasn’t a “part of”, including my family, school, or group my parents tried to get me involved in. I was lost, I had friends but always felt alone, but I knew even back then that there had to be something else, there was something missing, an emptiness, a void in my life. I asked my parents at an early age if I was adopted, and didn’t understand why I had to go to school, as I didn’t belong there either, my first day of school I walked into the class room and turned around and walked out, and couldn’t understand why people were chasing me down the street, I didn’t belong. I ran away at the age of 8-9, not for long, but I was searching for a place to belong. It was at the age of 12 when I took my first drink, and I loved it! best thing ever invented, became my best friend, made me feel like I finally belonged, with other drinkers, it was a relief, a sense of freedom, it filled that void that I had been searching for, by the time I was 15, I was drinking a dozen beer and a 26 oz bottle of whiskey, I progressed fast as it took more and more to fill that void, the emptiness. At 14 I smoked my first joint, didn’t like it at all, a few weeks later I took my first hit of acid, wow, I found another friend, I found myself in love again. At 16, I stood on the coffee table at a crowded house party and announced, “my name is Nick and I am an alcoholic and a drug addict” people laughed, but I was serious, and very angry, and started to become violent. This was around the first time I tried to commit suicide, I was hurting so bad inside, self hatred to the extreme, a silent scream for help, I wanted to be held, a hug, someone to love me. Drugs and alcohol became became a normal part of life, at 17 I had 2 impaireds, driving with no licence, a hit and run, dangerous driving, and did my first time, although brief. There had to be more to life, I was still hurting inside, and began to use women, addicted to women/relationships, to fill the need, I also began to see counsellors, psychiatrists, psychologists over te next 20 + years. I looked belonging in a cult, which amazed me, the power these men had over others, and they preached what I could relate to, “life sucks” “FTW” I was married and had 2 beautiful children, but I couldn’t stop the using, the cheating, the lieing, disappearing for days/weeks, ad she finally left, what took you so long I thought. The next 20 years was spent in and out of jail, psych wards, hospitals (overdoses, alcohol poisoning, car accidents, suicide attempts) bit I functioned, a drug dealer, a debt collector, a door man in drug houses, money was good and the life style that came with it was like out of the movies, I hated myself intensely, for what I had done and what I was doing, I hurt, so you were going to hurt, and I was good at it, and became known for it, I had everything, truck, car, 2 motorcycles, brand new house filles with expensive antiques, stuff, but I had nothing, I was still empty, lonely, abusive to everyone I came in contact with. I could drink 30 – 40 beer in a night, and a half oz of cocaine, which tirned into a crack addiction, I had had enough. Just being released from jail again, swearing I would never go back to the lifestyle, the drugs, 2 months later I was back there, hurting more than ever, the pain I felt inside was bad, the worse it had ever been, this time I was gonna do it properly, I put my gun to my head and pulled the trigger, the bullit got jammed, slid the jam out, got a bullit in the chamber and pressed it hard up against me temple, click, the bullit got jammed again, I looked up, and for the first time in my life acknowledged God, “what the f… do you want from me” thats where I belief He said “I got you Nick” A few weeks later I was back in after trying to kill someone and then myself. I still knew there had to be something, it wasn’t going to be God though, but there had to be something. I was the head cook inside and nothing was changing, until I got the nudge, an urge that I know know that was from the Holy Spirit, and asked the guy in my cell if I could borrow his Bible, and went to the Chaplain, and I asked him, “where do I start?” he said read Psalm 51, I did, and it was snot and tears, never in my life had I cried like that, forgiveness, is what I needed right then, self forgiveness, for all the hurt and pain I caused to so many. 4 months later I was out, charges dropped, to assault, but had to attend treatment, first, Miracle Valley in Mission, the Freedoms Door in Kelowna, both Christian based, and I drove everyone crazy asking about this God guy, this Jesus guy. Six months after my release I got the call, loud and clear, I thought I was having drug withdrawls, I was heavily medicated, court ordered, but I, Nick, was off to Bible college, Summit Pacific in Abbotsford. My first year I hated everyone, “christians!” became everything I swore I’d never become. My 3rd year I was elected student body vice president, I officiall became a nerd, lol. 4th year, graduating class president, and graduated in April 29th 2011, at the age of 49, and now I am the pastor at Freedoms Door, where it all began. There is only one true fulfillment, that is Christ Jesus, I looked for it in drugs, alcohol, relationships, porn, materialism, but all along it was and is Jesus. Nothing can fill that void, that emptiness but our Saviour. We all search for something, but there is only freedom from addiction, found in a Heaveny Father.

    • John Stackhouse

      I’m glad you’re doing better. And I, too, believe in the power of the Holy Spirit.

      But your story actually says nothing about whether InSite is a helpful place: helping some people stay alive who would otherwise be dead–and if they’re dead, they’re not going to get the many, many opportunities you say you had to turn your life around.

  5. Nick Yelland

    when I said freedom from my addiction I was saying that in knowing Christ, the true fulfillment, fulfilling that void, that emptiness that I felt, I don’t have to look for anything else, I have found the way, the truth and a life, free from drugs and alcohol. Total abstinence is the only way to live free, in my addiction I could not think clearly, make rational decision, or manage my own life, the addiction controlled me, thoughts and behaviour. How can a person make any clear decisions when they are out of reality, under the influence of drugs ? How many addicts die every year downtown ? How is helping someone stay on drugs help them get off drugs ? The addict still has to get the drug, and believe me an addict will go to any, and I mean any length ( I had guys show up at my door when I was dealing that would trade their wife for a hour to do whatever you want with for a forty rock, and thats not the worst of it), how is this helping anyone ? It just makes the person feel even crapier about themselves, that leads to death, eventual suicide/overdose because of the drugs. Persons that use drugs don’t want to use, nobody wants to be an addict, they want to quit, and I know personally how hard it is, and it doesn’t makeit any easier when people are telling you it’s okay to use, harm reduction doesn’t work. insight is taking away that freedom, it is an addicts best friend to help them continue to use “safely”. insight is apart of their lives for how long ? hour ? what goes on with them the rest of their days ? theft, prostitution, violence, homelessness, jail, death. You say “taking away opportunities” ? I think you have that the wrong way around, helping people use is taking away their right to life. If you have been there, in addiction, you would know what goes on, not only in the minds of us addicts, I’m Nick I’m in recovery, the torment that you live daily, the hell you live in is so real, and you believe there is no way out, because like many of use, we were never shown, or knew how to, living in addiction becomes “normal” insight is prolonging that hurt, that pain, the self hatred I felt after every time I used, when I told myself I would never use again. I “loved” the people who said “I don’t really have a problem” or “it’s not that bad” or “you’ve had a rough life/childhood” enablers, I hung out with them because they were saying to me I’m okay, but I wasn’t, I was hurting so bad, I wanted to quit but din’t know how, to me suicide was the only option. Believe me please, I don’t know you’re story, but insight is not helping people, you’re hurting them more than you could ever imagine, unless you’ve been there, insight is prolonging the addiction, shortening a life. If you could have crawled inside my head or any addicts when I was in full addiction, the hell, the torment, the pain, the self hatred, you would know that all we want is to stop the insanity, to quit, to abstain, from any harmful behaviour that stops us having freedom, peace, and love. Loving them/us is not helping us put a needle in ourselves.

  6. Nick Yelland

    We live in a world where “human rights” is becoming a huge topic, which is great, please don’t get me wrong. But it is people on the outside looking in telling us what we need and what will work, making the decisions, without ever knowing the person(s) or asking us.

    • John Stackhouse

      Okay, Brother Nick. You’ve provided readers a pretty clear picture of where you’re coming from on this issue. Thanks.


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