From Reality to Truth

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Swiss psychologist and psychoanalyst, Alice Miller, once famously said, “Addiction is a sign, a signal, and a symptom of distress. It is a language that tells us about a plight that must be understood.” In Hastings Street, Vancouver, Canada, every morning starts with the sounds of ambulances, meaning that someone could have died in one of the houses around. Vancouver was named the top destination in Canada according to TripAdvisor's 2014 Travellers' Choice Awards and was chosen the world's most livable city in 2010 by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The title has been awarded eight times since 2002. Behind this flimsy façade, however, lies a tragic reality. The Downtown Eastside has a high incidence of HIV infection. The area is noted for a high incidence of poverty, drug abuse, sex trade, crime, violence as well as a history of community activism. In addition, there is a persistent drug problem in this neighborhood, with the most common drugs being heroin, crack cocaine, powdered cocaine and, increasingly, crystal methamphetamine. Press TV’s exclusive documentary “From Reality to Truth” goes deep into the true reality behind this seemingly flawless façade.

TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00

Still on the screen byAlice miller: What is addiction, really? It is a sign, a signal, and a symptom of distress. It is a language that tells us about a plight that must be understood.

SOUNDBITE [English], Tracy, Addict: “Every morning starts with sounds of ambulances down here, meaning someone could have died in one of this room.”

Still on the screen: Vancouver was named the top destination in Canada according to trip Advisor’s 2014 Travelers’ choice awards and was chosen the world’s most livable city in 2010 by the Economist intelligence Unit. The title has been awarded eight times since 2002.”

“The Downtown Eastside has a high Incidence of HIV infection.

There is also a persistent drug problem in this neighborhood, with the most common drugs being heroin, crack cocaine, powdered cocaine (which Is often taken intravenously or is s imply snorted) and, increasingly, crystal methamphetamine.

TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00

SOUNDBITE [English], Tracy, Addict: I was thirteen when I started to get drugs that I was in Calgary, 1 started with .... they called that's prescription drug.

I used them until I was fifteen and then I moved on to Vancouver here and I started to use cocaine & heroin and heavier drugs.

I stopped going to school when I was 12, 13 skipping & hanging around downtown Calgary I thought it was cool.

My mom does support me she cares about me on the baby of nine children, my dad was an alcoholic, but he is diseased. My mom was straight she is retired now, she would back to her reserve, because I am half-native, seventh of my brother, out of seven of brother six are full-native. Just me & my brother Cory we are the both youngest and we are the only half-native in the family and my sister was full -native, my oldest brother overdosed and my sister overdosed both on heroin.”

I live in this room, it's 350 a month, 6000 $ a month ago through on drugs & I live in a 350 a month through and all goes into my system.

You ask me if I have ever been in love!? The first person I was in love with started needles into my arms, you don't want to love anybody after that. Couse a quit life forgot me ...”

Still on the screen: The area is noted for a high Incidence of poverty, drug abuse, sex trade, crime, violence as well as a hi5tory of community activism.

SOUNDBITE [English], Steve, Addict: Hi I'm Steve I'm thirty three years old uh, I've been an addict for seventeen years. I've lived in downtown eastside of Vancouver now for ten years.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Nancy Jean Jones, Addict: “Hi my name is Nancy Jean Jones, and umm, my life history past ok. I’m turning I’m thirty-six years old and I’ve lived down here on the east side of Vancouver. My life, my life is been just surrounded like a, like prison.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Jeana, Addict: “I’m thirty six, born October thirty first 1964. In Vancouver, I’m an original.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Denise Claudette, Addict: “My name’s um Denise Claudette grey eyes. I’m originally from um Calgary, Alberta. Moved to BC in eighty-four, to Kamloops with my ex-husband and my boys, I have two boys.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Jeana, Addict: “Since I was twenty years old, I started using ivy drugs at the age of twenty.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Steve, Addict: “I quite school in grade 9, I took my parents to court to become an emancipated minor. Uh the judge uh say basically ok, you’re fifteen, you’re six foot3, two hundred eighty pounds, there you go you’re , you’re now have your own rights as a as an adult.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Tara, Addict: “I went to a technical school when I finished grade twelve, and then at a later point I went back to university and I only made it as far as my second year university , the then I dropped out. Because I wasn’t able to cut the grade, and I, I felt that I was just inadequate and intellectually not capable of succeeding and I gave up.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Nancy Jean Jones, Addict: “I stared growing up in all this and that and every time I had a boyfriend that always try and beat me up, murder me, anything. I was victim all my life and everything and that.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Steve, Addict: “In four, in four and a half years I completed grades nine, ten, eleven and twelve and two years of university.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Unknown Addicted Guy, Addict: “Got started, bout twelve years ago. Friend gave me my first hit of cocaine after that didn’t use for say two years I never touched it again. But one night party, I got back tried it again and I liked it and since then it’s gradually became worse and worse.”

TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00

SOUNDBITE [English], Jeana, Addict: “The guy asked me if I wanted to try some and I said yeah ok why not just to see what it’s like. I instantly liked it so I wanted more. And so of course the more I did the more I wanted and before I knew it the want became a need and I had to have it.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Steve, Addict: “I guess, I start of my drug use like many teenagers was experimentation. Umm going through puberty being full of angst and, and having the normal problems. Uh I filled those little voids and gaps with drugs, soft drugs, marijuana, hashish, uh alcohol.”

Still on screen: The southwest corner of Main and Hastings streets continues to be a problem as drug sellers and users frequently occupy the corner, establishing an open-air drug market.

SOUNDBITE [English], Tara, Addict: “I’m using cocaine at this point in time. I’m smoking cocaine; um a lot of us do substitution. I use to be an ivy drug user and I stopped and I thought well I’m, I’m now above being a full on addict because now I’m only smoking it and uh. Living in denial and that’s because um I do it I want to inanities the pain of my past that’s why I do in. I run I run I’m a runner and it’s not that I, it’s not that I love the drugs I hate the drugs.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Jeana, Addict: “I’m using heroin, cocaine and rock. I don’t use the rock steady but I do need the heroin and I do, do like mix them together in a speed ball.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Tara, Addict: “And I do a lot of things to, to sabotage potentially good things in my life because I feel that I feel that I am not worthy of them. So what it all boils you know like myself. I had excellent parents, my father was a doctor, my mother was a nurse. And sure there was. We were a dysfunctional family but they did the best that they very much could under the circumstances.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Jeana, Addict: “No, no. I have, I’ve been pregnant five times. Um, two children are surviving.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Denise Claudette, Addict: “Um, um my boys are with their dad. Anyway um, I still carry a lot of guilt form when we turned them over to welfare. And shame, lost of shame and it’s hard to. As soon as I start getting straight I start feeling.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Nancy Jean Jones, Addict: “My life’s been like that ah. My beat us up, threw me through the window, used umm belts on us, used everything on us. And then I was raised up really hard life. I have three other sisters and two other brothers and I started growing up in all this and that. And every time I had a boyfriend that always try and beat me up, murder me, anything.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Denise Claudette, Addict: “If I tried to see my sons, ,my husband would make it impossible for me to see them. Running to welfare, running t o a social worker and tell them I’m trying to see the boys and I’m still under the influence of drugs. So I just don’t want hassle and the bother, and I don’t want to let him power trip all over me so I don’t bother try and see them.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Tara, Addict: “Drug addicts like to wallow in self pity, we love that. So the dysfunction that comes from our past just perpetuates and fuels the, the cycle of addicts. Because we can wallow in that “poor me” stuff and we need to get to a point where we can face it head on, however you know talk is cheap. You need, you need the tools to do that and a lot f people you know, don’t have those tools to face life on life’s terms and so we run.”

TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00

SOUNDBITE [English], Tara, Addict: “And any time we approach anything that feels like it could be you know in our favor we sabotage it because you know, who are we, we’re just you know horrible people anyways. Because that’s the program, the tape in our heads right. So here we all are, it’s spiritual disease, and you know we’re not living, none of us are living down here we’re existing we’re just like shells you know of, of human begins. And it’s the most miserable and lonely life you could ever, ever expect to live and…”

SOUNDBITE [English], Unknown Addicted Guy: “Friends? I don’t think there’s really a whole lot of true friendship down here, cause uh, the only real friend, number one thing in your life is the drugs.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Tara, Addict: “I have a wonderful man in my life that I’ve abandoned because he didn’t approve of my drug use. I have burned so many bridges, I’ve come back to them begging for them, pleading, pleading, please I’ll do anything take me back and they do and I walk out again. And it’s just, it’s just a vacuum. It’s emptiness in your life that you’re that you just; you need to go through it. In order to get around it your have to go through it, and I don’t want to go through it causes there’s a lot of shit that I don’t want to bring up again and that’s from my past. And, and I know until that I do that I won’t get onto the other side of this. But I know it’s going to be excruciatingly painful and that’s shat holds me back. Because I’m afraid it’ll just be the end of me.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Jeana, Addict: “I sell paraphernalia, rigs, and pipes. I uh, sell my services. I’m a prostitute, I borrow money. I beg borrow, I don’t s teal I sell cigarettes. Whatever I can sell I sell it to make my money.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Unknown Addicted Guy: “Uh, selling dope, bring sales to other people. You know you bring so many sales, you get, they give, thy hook you up with something. Wither it be rock cocaine powder cocaine, heroin, whatever, whatever you want and need right.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Jeana, Addict: “Um, I do ten dollar papers. So anywhere between a hundred to three hundred dollars a day I’ll do. Depending on how much money I make is to how much I do. I have to do at least twenty dollars worth of heroin a day, at the very least.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Steve, Addict: “I’m just a chipper. A little tiny, tiny, tiny microscopic cog in the wheel. Ah there’s dealers at street level, then there’s the guys that supply them, then there’s their dealers, and then theirs that import it. The guys that bring it into the country you know who knows it is like I said or bikers or that have you.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Unknown Addicted Guy: “Going through ah, minimum three hundred buck s a day on average, supporting my habit, hustling down town. Wired on coke, heroin.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Steve, Addict: “I mean come on get a grip on reality Uh, there’s uh, there’s uh, there’s that chain of command like you said, from the, the big tongs, or the, the guys that import it, the guys who bring it down, you know, the, the next dealers, the street dealers, and then there’s guys like you and me who go out and gen high.

That’s the funds it all. That keeps the wheels greased, that makes the money. And there are people in the sex trade. People who sell drugs and people who do crime, that’s the only way you can make money down here.”

Still on the screen: According to a City of Vancouver report in 2012, 40% of homeless people living In the Downtown Eastside suffer from a mental illness.

SOUNDBITE [English], Jeana, Addict: “I live on the street, I have no fixed address. I sleep where ever I find a couch I sleep on, or corner to curl up in.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Interviewer: “What are you doing there?”

SOUNDBITE [English], Channy, Addict: “I am working; I am trying to make my money legally not illegally.

My name is Channy, I am born here I work on my leg, but I was younger, I am 43 now I am so young, but this is what I have to do to survive j'1I do it.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Interviewer: “To collecting the can.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Channy, Addict: “Yes, and I am happy.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Interviewer: “Ok”

SOUNDBITE [English], Channy, Addict:All right, thank you”

SOUNDBITE [English], Interviewer: “Thank you.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Channy, Addict: “Nice to meet you.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Interviewer: “Nice to meet you too.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Girl, Addict: “Try to keep drying.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Interviewer: “Keep drying!?”

SOUNDBITE [English], Girl, Addict: “Yeah .”

SOUNDBITE [English], Interviewer: “Ok”

SOUNDBITE [English], Channy, Addict: “Me again, she is waiting for her husband.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Interviewer: “Ahh, you are her husband!”

SOUNDBITE [English], Girl, Addict: “He is trying ...”

SOUNDBITE [English], Interviewer: “I am your cousin”

SOUNDBITE [English], Girl, Addict: “He is trying to find the other boot for me.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Channy, Addict: “I only find one, I need the other one.”

TIME CODE: 20:00_25:00

SOUNDBITE [English], Girl, Addict: “It was in the garbage

SOUNDBITE [English], Channy, Addict: “Yeah in my garbage”

SOUNDBITE [English], Interviewer: “It’s for Christmas time.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Channy, Addict: “You know brand new!”

SOUNDBITE [English], Girl, Addict: “We try to finding the other boot.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Interviewer: “Is she your friend?”

SOUNDBITE [English], Channy, Addict: “Yeah, just friend.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Interviewer: “Girlfriend? Boyfriend?”

SOUNDBITE [English], Channy, Addict: “Very good friend.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Girl, Addict: “No no, I have a home now; I used to sleep on the street.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Interviewer: “Not anymore.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Girl, Addict: “Not anymore.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Interviewer: “Ok, have fun thank you brother.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Channy, Addict: “Well done buddy thank you. All right.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Interviewer: “Bye buddy.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Girl, Addict: “See you later.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Steve, Addict: “You know they feel that if they take a lot of those smaller pieces out of the pie that it’ll crumble, nut it’s not the area. You know I’ve seen myself get a ninety-five dollar jaywalking ticket, when there’s forty-one woman that work in the sex trade industry to buy their drugs in the downtown eastside that have disappeared. Their giving me a jaywalking ticket!, and there’s a fourteen year old girl selling herself on the corner.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Nancy Jean Jones, Addict: “Yeah, there’s a lot of aids going around I don’t have aids, which thank god I don’t have aids, I’m very much clean and stuff and that. But down here your see a lot of aids going around and that’s because people are using needles and not cleaning them and that, you know. And you don’t use other peoples needles or they find them and they get poked.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Steve, Addict: “Everyone I know that uses intervenes drugs down here has hepatitis C. there quarters of my associates and friends have HIV. Myself, I’m negative so far , knock on wood.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Jeana, Addict: “I’m HIV positive; my munity system is very, very low. So I’m , I’m very prone to colds, I’ve , colds all the time, all the time whatever bug pasts my nose I catch it.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Steve, Addict: “I have hepatitis C, I’ve had hepatitis A, hepatitis B, um, my liver’s pouched. It’s hurting, uh, I watched a girl yesterday.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Jeana, Addict:“Families, the families always listen to your kids, always listen to what’s being said. Um, please, please don’t try to prejudge. Please try not to stereo type and please, please do not disown. That is the worst thing that could happen to an addict is to be disowned. The family support is the most important of all the supports, to know that your family your mom. Your dad, your brothers, your sisters, aunts, uncles. Family is so strong, it’s very important to me to have the family support cause that says I love you. You know.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Tara, Addict: “I would like to think that if you have a child or any family member in this predicament that you love them, love them unconditionally because not financially, love them unconditionally. Let them know that no matter what your will always be there for them because it’s spiritual disease, it’s a lack of love and just let them know that. That you will be there for them and you will always love them. They’re always your family, your child. Keep the love alive, keep the live alive.”

SOUNDBITE [English], Unknown Woman, Addict:Why do you think I’m crying. I’m crying, the other two years I haven’t … tear . I’ve been so ... Cold.”

Still on the screen: Vancouver's Needle Exchange program. The first in North America, opened in 1989 and distributes about 3 million free needles per year to users. The opening of North America 's first safe injection site In the Downtown Eastside has lowered the spread of HIV and has reduced the other harmful consequences of IV drug use considerably.


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