The Many Faces of Addiction

The Many Faces of Addiction

I live and work in downtown Vancouver, and have worked in the past in the historic neighbourhood of Gastown. My daily commute when I worked in the area had me cross paths with the entire spectrum of Vancouver residents. From the hipster scene to the booming technology industry, from recent immigrants to Vancouver’s business elite; all can be found within the small corridor between Coal Harbour and Gastown.

One very important and often written off community is the large group of addicts and homeless people that have a very visible presence in the North East quadrant of Vancouver False-Creek. As a constituent who has personal experience with addiction, I think that Sam Sullivan plays a very important role in helping these people, and subsequently the other residents, businesses and industries in the area.

During Sam’s terms on City Council and in the role of Mayor, Sam demonstrated an uncanny knowledge and insight into the world of addiction and recovery that is very rarely seen from someone who doesn’t have a personal history with addiction to alcohol or other substances. After several conversations with Sam, I’ve realized that he gained this understanding by drawing parallels between his own disability and addiction.  People with addiction cannot always be easily or quickly cured, but rather they have a chronic problem that might need to be managed the rest of their life.

As a result, it means that there is always going to be the very heavy presence of the multi-faceted plague of addiction in the DTES, and it takes someone who is adept at thinking outside of the box to handle all of the challenges it brings. Sam has expertly comprehended the many faces of addiction and realized that there are several different types of solutions needed for the problem. His help in introducing the NAOMI project, which was a drug treatment research program that provided maintenance prescriptions to hundreds of addicts, was a progressive solution that not only helped several hundred addicts with opiate addiction, but it also dropped criminal behaviour in the area and employment rates went up dramatically amongst respondents.

As I said previously, the problem is going to require very progressive thinking and a fountain of creativity, and anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting Sam knows that he is a wealth of both. This is also why I believe there is no better person to represent us in Victoria and showcase Vancouver’s downtown to the world. Sam’s local knowledge and his experience on the international scene leaves him second to none when it comes to growing our city, and our future, together.

Andrew Benson is a community activist, was born in the Lower Mainland, and is a resident of Vancouver-False Creek.


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply