The Addict Next Door

Junkies are alive and living next door (to your West Village condo)

Addiction is a painful, overwhelming secret for a lot of people, and I think that the world finally has a chance to clue in on the fact that there are dudes, successful, family men and women, housewives, teenagers…that drift away quietly, unseen, towards a point of no return. Who shoot drugs or take pills and die facedown in the bathroom.

There needs to be another tier to the whole recovery/harm reduction system – one that catches people who haven’t hit rock bottom, yet.

Waiting to hit rock bottom

Rock bottom is a pretty harsh, life-and-death place to be, yet there isn’t anything besides AA meetings and t’ai chi for addicts with jobs, mortgages, kids, sunny dispositions, brushes with happiness, anything to suggest a comfortable life.


In the end, unfortunately, junkies are all the same. They live and die and use drugs and whether or not it’s a secret or an obvious truth, whether it exists in a piss-stained alley or cozy West Village apartment – it’s all the same. Until you enter the weird, weird world of recovery.

Recovery: bottom out or die trying

The process of getting clean is a strange beast, that has yet to evolve from ye olde lock-up rehab clinics and ‘i feel’ statements in group therapy, to something inclusive, or at least familiar with people that don’t fit into the ‘junkie’ stereotype, physically, mentally, in terms of lifestyle, whatever the situation may be.

Nobody really needs the rehab spas and the Dr.Drew crowd hugging it out until probation ends. And not everybody needs the intensive, 72 day hospital-style rehabs and detox clinics. There is little in between, at least in Vancouver, and at least if you are looking to get well within the public healthcare system.


Sadly, aside from a few street detoxes and shelter-cum-sober living operations in the DTES, an addict’s health concerns must fall in the ‘post-treatment, group meetings and therapists’ category or the ‘intensive, long-term rehabilitation’ one. There is no grey area.

Rehabs wait for you to hit rock bottom, but some people don’t want to, or can’t wait to bottom out. There is a lot at stake for many people, too much to risk losing. Treatment almost seems like a jail sentence, one that you must impose upon yourself. That’s a lot to ask from anyone, nevermind the commitment-phobic, constantly running, drug addict tiptoing around the rocks beneath them.

 Rehab isn’t real life

Even when you get in, most inpatient rehab/treatment centres do little more than tossing as many addicts as possible into the temporary, mindless bliss of AA/NA meetings, breakfast, activities, lunch, one-on-one, meds, dinner, bedtime.What the fuck is that? Senior living? Summer camp?

Recovery often means another role, illusion, faking-it-till-you-make-it as a clean, happy person.

There needs to be a place to get help, get sorted, in a way that will be somewhat applicable to real, stressful, chaotic as fuck, life.