These are the special ingredients to the food we cook up for and with youth each Saturday at our local youth shelter; the ingredients of non-judgment and unconditionality. At our local youth shelters we find those of us who may be at an important turning point in a hard journey. This is an opportunity to share in connection through a simple experience of cooking, baking, and eating together. Understanding many of us have experienced similar paths through broken families, abuse, trauma, substance use, disconnection, distrust, hunger, and of course old fashioned oppression.
If we are going to promote positive change, we must recognise the problem of our societal narratives. That these narratives are ‘cliche’ but also dangerously self-fulfilling and insidious (not to mention stigmatising). Narratives like ‘dangerous criminal’, the ‘homeless person’, narratives of the ‘mental person’, the ‘drug addict’, the ‘drug dealer’, the ‘gang banger’ and so on and so on. Not to deny that at times such behaviour or symptoms can exist, however more importantly we must see first the person and the context of the person (in which one size does not fit all). Just because a person did that, or does that, does not necessarily make them that ‘type’ of person – they are many reasons for behaviours/symptoms and mistakes do happen in life. Instead, if we can raise awareness and see how when we adopt such narratives (either for ourselves or in how we see each other) what we are doing is participating in oppression; oppression of both ourselves and others.
Without such narratives it is easy to feel a little crazy – and it is quite normal to be a little crazy in a world of such breakneck change. To dismantle narratives of oppression (in how we view ourselves and each other) is to be aware of our being-ness as unlimited and not limited to social character roles (and other status-quos) as put forward by and through dominant systems of control (i.e., the criminal-justice system, the media, moral-enthusiasts, the pharmacracy … just to name a few). To be aware of our being-ness (outside of stigmatising labels) is a powerful step in growing into a personhood of power. Importantly there are mini-steps that we can take. For example;
(1) growing positive relations with those of us who share in our experience – this is to be there for each other and one self in genuine ways that count.
(2) Accepting one’s own authentic self, person, and history – this is understanding who one as situated in the present moment – separate from a past that is now over and importantly facing a positive future that is about to happen to the real self (not the false self of broken images of how others saw or may see us).
As Eric Fromm wrote “It means to wake up, to shed illusions, fictions, and lies, to see reality as it is. The person who wakes up is the liberated person, the person whose freedom cannot be restricted either by others or by oneself.” (Fromm & Suzuki, 1960) What better way to wake up and live in truth than through a kindness containing non-judgement and unconditionality and a little good food for and with both ourselves and each other.
AddictNoMore is grateful for what was another great year of seized opportunities of growth with our sisters and brothers in the regions of Niagara Ontario. Engaged on the front lines of ‘addiction’ and ‘poverty’ (aka disempowerment). We would like to pass on some observations.
WHAT THE PROBLEM SEEMS TO BE
Addiction is not a simple issue of ‘drugs’. Just as the criminal-justice approach has shown to only exacerbate the problem, a disease model concept in fact may only be further perpetuating and making a problem worse. It seems the same mechanisms of the construction of deviance are at play with both styles of addressing addiction. Whereas the justice systems punishes drug use with the label of ‘crime’ so the disease model punishes drug taking behaviour with the label/stigma of ‘disease/illness’. Both approaches are simply repressive enforcement of societal norms that actually have no ontological reality to begin with. AddictNoMore challenges the current trend of twitter and facebook parades of mental health style posts in regards to drug use – we maintain that the continued enforcement of the regime of repressive normalcy (to do with human behaviour) and undue socialization of economic, material, and political ideologies only makes problems worse. As Carl Jung wrote ‘dirt is matter in the wrong place, and the more civilized we become the dirtier we get.” It is shameful when social services and good-will organizations both wittingly and unwittingly put forward and advance an oppressive narrative in the name of helping people.
Despite all of our best efforts the war against the suffering and disempowerment around substance use is being lost; it seems the losses are unimaginable. With hard drug use beginning as early as adolescence, young people with no family nor any support network at all are being forced to negotiate substance dependence in an economically, socially, and spiritually ravaged Niagara Region.
THE ROOT OF IT ALL – DISEMPOWERMENT
AddictNoMore maintains the root of all problematic substance use is ‘disempowerment’. This is when a person finds themselves in a sort of need-state (either material, psychological, or spiritual depravation) but has no real viable means of growth/overcoming. This “absence of means” is today often systematic (with the break-down of the family as our reproductive technology, also economic and social justice issues, but also the failure of organized faiths and their people to deliver and teach transcendental values). As well, the “absence of means” can often be personal (in instances of trauma and abuse). Disempowerment can then be perpetuated by the disempowered themselves, by people having internalized social beliefs that are really oppressive narratives meant to substantiate and legitimize a status quo world that is unjust (a person then can become their own worst enemy). In all such examples however, the one constant is substances. In any case regardless of the differences, ‘drugs’ remain the easy and only available partner to our woes (either street drugs or pharma – and we challenge the thoughts about which are safer). Within our system of profit pursuits, eager capitalists (corporations, cartels) have made available at all levels of society (and at all levels of price) different substances that people can turn to instead of other people, or their own internal psychological resilient strengths and, or spiritual essence and guide.
A RATHER SIMPLE SOLUTION
AddictNoMore suggests the following means to immediately begin to take our people back!
1.Empowerment; via love (unconditional regard, non-judgement and forgiveness). Teaching that defaults are not a result of our individual biology, but a manifestation of blocked paths to growth.
2. Social Power; re-establishing communities that empower their members through horizontal (non- professional, community based) guidance. Enabling communities through economic resources that include real access to education that is growth orientated. Assisting communities by putting expert knowledge in the hands of community members synonymous to ideas of community and liberation psychology.
3. Transcendental guidance; going beyond tolerance of different beliefs but encouraging people to reconnect with each their own life source and find in it their own heritage, tradition, culture, and truths which can lead the person to an internal state of otherness yet connection – a truly powerful way of being not unlike Maslow’s ideas of peak/plateau experiences and, or mystical experiences chronicled in the writings of Joseph Campbell.
A FINAL NOTE AND BEST WISHES
As we close 2017 we leave you with some pictures of good cooking and loving from our local youth shelter. We hope you all a greater and greater understanding for 2018; the idea that the greatest truths are only those that get better by growing.
AddictNoMore is actively engaged with youths in shelters in Niagara Region. We give cooking and baking lessons while at the same time we bake and cook meals for everyone who may be in the shelter at that time. This is a new approach to interacting with the front lines of ‘drug addiction’. Such activities gives us time to interact and connect with the minds of our young people, demonstrate productive role modelling, answer questions about drug use, and discuss broader and yet pertinent ideas, truths and realities such as oppression, belief, constructions of deviance, and of course life skills.
We believe that working with youths specifically at shelters in our region is especially apt and effective in finding those we believe to be in most need of support, but most of all an opportunity to find many of our sisters and brothers who are engaged in the ongoing struggle of life. We identify as ‘recovered addicts’ ourselves with young women and men in our shelters from ages of 16 to 24 who are already well versed with drugs in our society. Similarly we all are well versed with the precedents and perpetuators to ‘drugs’ and ‘addiction’ such as trauma, abuse, stigma, guilt, shame, economic oppression, racism, gender oppression, and medicalization of deviance.
Our first approach with youths is unconditional love and unbiased support and praise of their own demonstrated resilience to hardships. Among the youths we share, cook and break bread with lies the promise of our age; the finest gold which has been refined by fire. It is yet most heart wrenching to meet teenagers who are already on opiate maintenance and been through the wretchedness of dependence of hard drugs. As well it is hard to sometimes let someone find their own way in but hopefully through darkness. We remain steadfast in our commitment to non-judgment and to empowerment and liberation through love. This is after all a journey to the light, after all is said and done we know that even in the darkest places their are the most important things to be found. After all as it states in MATTHEW 20: 16 “Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Addictnomore continues its work in the Regions of Niagara and Hamilton-Wentworth offering unconditional love and support to those who have had a problem with drugs in their lives and with those who are still using. Addictnomore is involved in ongoing street level outreach especially aimed as support to those who are working the streets. We also are involved doing work in local youth shelters of the region and of course we are on social media offering informational and emotional support on a daily basis.
We invite anyone with a personal journey that involves drug use to join us in our outreach activities ( just message us), join us in online chat on our chatroom forum, or on Twitter ( @Addict_No_More ).
Please spread the word of Addictnomore to our sisters and brothers who have personal experience with ‘drugs’ in their lives! Please invite them to join us as friends on social media. We are about breaking down myths and ‘status quo’ misconceptions about ‘drugs and crime’ by spreading positive informative ideas, positives of recovery – while at the same time trying to point out the reality that things are not so clear cut as “good and bad, right and wrong”.Importantly ‘addiction’ itself (though very real in its physical and psychological respects including cognitive, metabolic, developmental, attachment, and behavioural components) is at the same time very much a social construction that can actually limit and actually work to control us, even work against us. Every human being is a free agent in society on their own personal journey of truth and meaning. We are all in different places of this journey.
Addictnomore wishes to be support for anyone on this path of discovery – and we invite anyone with an experience of ‘drug use’ to join us on social media. We are trying to reach out through both the streets and the internet to create a network of people all who share life experience with drugs. With this network established we can empower each other with each own’s stories and be a source of information and emotional support. As well anyone is welcome to join us in outreach activities in Regions of Niagara and Hamilton-Wentworth – just message us.
A great day today doing outreach on the streets of St. Catharines. With the sun shining many were out and about, especially those who need to be seen, heard, spoken to, and loved. Yes, I am talking about those using hard drugs on the streets. Particular those who are selling themselves for their addictions and, or putting themselves last with their drug use. I was able, with my friendly doggie helper, to find many working girls out today in St. Catharines. We were able to talk for some time and exchange cares and concerns. It was fantastic to connect with two women in particular who helped me out a bit with where to go with my outreach. I hope and pray you both find safety and freedom from drugs and oppression at your journey’s end. It is a very hard life journey to be in the thralls of drug addiction, especially when exacerbated by societal oppression represented in our laws and ways – that is systematic gender, racial and class oppressive bias and discrimination that is too real today. I leave you off with the words from ROMANS 8:24,25,27. “For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one see? But if we hope for what we do not sees, we wait with endurance…And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Sprit…”
There are no easy answers. But we need to find those little things in life that are sure signs and promise of great things that can come. Speaking of, it was so great to run into some familiar, youthful, and friendly faces towards the end the walk today. To that young bunch of youths who got the last of the Timie gift cards today, stay strong young lads, be good to yourselves,
Since the spring we have been helping out at our local youth shelter. This weekly outreach has culminated into a once week baking class I put on with teenagers and young adults staying, or dropping in at the downtown shelter. The initial rational for helping out at the shelter was to add, in addition to our street outreach, a more pro-active and preventative support mechanism to battle with substance abuse. The experiences thus far have been nothing short than amazing, I have made many friends with both staff and clients, been able to provide positive role modelling, as well support (emotional, tangible, informative, and network support)- and of course we have baked many sweet and tasty delicacies. There are many drawbacks however still and what we are seeing about drug problems with marginalized youth does hurt to see. I need to point out the following:
Drug use is prevalent among disenfranchised youth, the category of drugs include opiates,cocaine, crack, and meth (not an exhaustive list). Drugs exacerbate the situation and get in the way of youth obtaining otherwise available services. In other words a young person on drugs is less likely to have access to services, be provided access and of course have motivation to obtain services.
The police and criminal justice system seems to be more a nuisance in the lives of these young people rather than provide any positive influence.
Drug and street culture serves to polarize vulnerable youth from people and services who otherwise may be willing to help them out.
Too many of these young ones are on prescription meds. It is amazing that in todays day and age service providers could potentially refuse services, or offer strict penalties for pot, yet at the same time happily dispense much more powerful ‘psychotropic’ meds. I am not saying all meds are bad, but there needs to be an objective stricter review of what is exactly going on with them in young populations.
Regardless of the above stated realities there does remain a safe place in my downtown area that provides shelter, food, and services as well caring staff. And yes even where you can do some baking with yours truly.
We are Addictnomore. Frontline engaged in the battle against drug addiction.
Leave you off with MATTHEW 20:16 “Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Started the day doing outreach watching an old lady eat popcorn out of a garbage pail downtown on St.Paul Street. I tried to politely interrupt her with a $10.00 Tim Hortons gift card but she was not interested. She assured me with her name tag that she was fine and quite happy and alright eating her special popcorn. So I continued on.
Looking particular for those who are in drug ‘addiction’ as it is called today. We were out on the streets looking for those who were locked in drugs and destitute…offering emotional, informational and tangible support. Most important to our message is unconditional love. We are not judging and we do not conform to common sense societal categories that label and stigmatize individuals. We are addictnomore, that is we were once living a life of drugs and ‘crime’ ourselves. We are out trying to just help, not judge. Every one is free with their lives to do with it what they want. Personally I believe there is nothing someone can do that would make God love them less, nor do that would make God love them more. We are all equal.
We were able to run up with several people down and out and on drugs, and were able to chat together for some time. We had Tim Horton gift cards to give out today along with AddictNoMore info packs. I was quite surprised three of those we spoke with were from Hamilton. We talked and did discover Hamilton has quite a presence in St.Catharines. We heard some good things about Debbie B. who also from Hamilton is also helping out with those in need in Niagara. If anyone speaks to Debbie please ask her to contact Robert@addictnomore.ca (thats my email) she knows me well from many years ago.
In all, all we can offer is our love, forgiveness and support. Hoping people are safe in their journeys. May one day everyone see that a life of drugs is a lie – drugs will lead you down…., but we love you the same. I would like to leave of with Ezekiel 18:29 – 32 it reads “and yet they say, ‘The Lord’s way is not fair!’ Is it my way that is not fair, or rather, is it not that your ways are not fair?……, ‘For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies’, says the Lord God. ‘Return and live’!
People are becoming more and more comfortable with social medium forums such as facebook and less and less comfortable with more older conventions such as yellow pages and newspapers, even telephones(preferring texting over speech). It is becoming more clear that effective outreach can take place on the internet as well. We have had recent success on forums such as facebook reaching out to addicts accross Canada and the United States. Addictnomore is on facebook under the name “Addictnomore Addictnomore” as well on Twitter @Addict_No_More. We encourage anyone with an interest, and, or history of Addiction, and, or current Addiction problem to reach out and friend us on one of these social media devices. These accounts are monitored daily and can offer ongoing emotional support and informational support to anyone who inquires. One day at a time.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain can not be hidden…just so let your light shine…”Matthew5:14-16.
Able to offer some support and love to those using drugs and working the streets in the City of Hamilton today. We had info packs, timie gift cards, socks, underwear, some tasty snacks as well. I spoke with a few people who were out working the corner and some just out and about. Happy to have met Sarah..and hope she is able to find her way out of addiction. She promised to pray for me, I am thankful for her kindness. I am hopeful that every one we spoke to today who are using drugs will soon find their way out of their suffering. I wish them the strength to see that drugs only make the pain worse…that drugs are a lie….that we all have a life waiting for us in recovery.
I did get to run up with one of Paulina’s uncles (Paulina recently overdosed). I know her uncles well and use to use drugs with them years ago. I hope they see and we all see how unnecessary it is that any of us die to addiction…no matter how many we loose, regardless, more keep dying. I would say to Paulina’s uncles and everyone using; there is no better day than today to stop this insanity. It is time to put the drugs down. Time to seek the help(detox) one needs. Time to begin living the life that is waiting you for you. We are here in support of you each with all your perfections and imperfections. We are AddictNoMore.
I would like to leave off with 1Corinthians 9:24-27 “Surely you know that many runners take part in a race, but only one of them wins the prize. Run, then, in such a way as to win … every athlete in training submits to strict discipline, in order to be crowned with a wreath that will not last; but we do it for on that will last forever. That is why I run…I harden my body.. to keep myself from being disqualified after having called others to the contest.”
Out on foot this afternoon with two special helpers (Thank-you K and S for your support). Managed to make contact and gives some support to five addicts on the Hamilton streets; one man, a women on Methadone and three working girl/addicts on Barton…We handed out some tasty energy bars, tim horten gift cards, information packages on where to get help, and some old fashioned unconditional love.
This is the fourth visit to Hamilton streets by addictnomore. I am beginning to sense the real void between social services and those who most need them. Outreach is absolutely necessary to establish a relationship/repoir with those fallen through the “cracks”. A caring presence must be established on the streets to mediate a potential recovery for addicts in between the polarization that exists between dealers and police. The addict must learn and see there is someone else out there besides the dealers and cops. For addicts on the street to develop relations with addictnomore is the first step in that addict considering there is a life in recovery for them.
This is not a job, this is not a hobby. This is one recovered addict paying respect to the people who kept him alive when he was on the streets. This is a thank-you and I still love you to those using and destitute on the streets. One day at a time. One step at a time. We will all get there. Soon we will all be free.
” You are always in my heart!…I pray that your love will keep on growing more and more, together with true knowledge and perfect judgement, so that you will be able to choose what is best. Then you will be free from impurity and blame…your lives will be filled with good…” PHILIPPIANS1:7-11