Addiction, Sharon David says, can seize you any time.
Hers began in her mid-30s, after she had already navigated what many might think were the shoals of her life. She spent her adolescence on a First Nations reserve on an emerald stretch of Canada’s Long Island, off the coast of British Columbia. She lived with her grandmother, whom she says was emotionally and physically abusive. When she was 16, after a cousin’s boyfriend tried to rape her, she ran away from home. That escape eventually brought her to Vancouver’s seedy Skid Row, where she drank and sold pot, yet she didn’t use harder drugs. She didn’t like the look of those who did: “I saw a lot of people lost on it, eh?”
Social workers found her living in the streets and eventually helped her launch a decade-long career working in outreach with runaways like herself. “I did a lot of successful things in my life,” she says. “I had ferrets. I bought my very first car. I never asked my parents for anything. I used to go over and visit and give them money.”
David is 49 by the time we meet in Ovaltine, a worn diner in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighborhood, where I sip coffee and she works through a pile of poutine. Like many of the women I’ll meet in the next few days I spend talking with injection-drug users in the Downtown Eastside, David is slim and delicate. At one point in our conversation, she pushes up the three-quarters-lengths sleeves of her dress to show me thick track marks on the inside of her elbows.
[For more of this story, written by Francie Diep, go to https://psmag.com/inside-north...82a6af8f5#.wrkjo2rld]