Saturday, August 30, 2008
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY
VANCOUVER – After an 18-month cocaine and heroin binge, Karmalita Joe was ready to get clean.
She had tried and failed before at detox centres around Vancouver, but the persistent urging of staff at InSite – the supervised-injection site where she says she went to shoot up “repeatedly, daily, sadistically” – prevailed. On a Friday in early July, she asked to be admitted to OnSite, the detox facility upstairs.
But the facility, which has been operating at capacity almost since it opened a year ago, didn’t have any spare beds. Come back Monday, she was told.
In the intervening two days, she was on another trip.
“When you want to quit, you need to quit now,” she said. “If you’re told you have to wait three or four days, that drive to quit … it just goes down, and addiction takes over.”
Ms. Joe was lucky: She was back at OnSite the following Wednesday, got a bed in its detox program and has graduated to its third-floor stabilization room.
“I still, for the life of me, cannot believe I was able to stay clean,” she said.
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