FACING SURREY'S HOMELESS: 'Once I tried cocaine intravenously, I was done.'

FACING SURREY’S HOMELESS: ‘Once I tried cocaine intravenously, I was done.’

One night after three days of crack cocaine use, Adam jumped into a cardboard dumpster outside a large grocery store in downtown Abbotsford to escape the imaginary people who were chasing him.

Paranoia and psychosis had taken over, but eventually, he fell asleep.

Soon he felt the container begin to move. Panicked, he threw open the lid just as the contents of the large metal bin were about to be tipped into the recycling truck.

Startled, the truck driver immediately put the bin back down and that’s when Adam got out and ran, leaving all his belongings and identification behind.

Growing up in White Rock, Adam, now 40, was an athletic kid who played soccer and rugby. After games, he and his buddies would drink alcohol and smoke marijuana.

By Grade 10 he had dropped out of school. While working part-time at a restaurant, he began experimenting with cocaine. And that’s when his life began to spiral out of control.

“Once I tried cocaine intravenously, I was done,” he says. “I would steal anything from anyone.”

He spent the next five years living on the street in downtown Vancouver. He would stay up for days at a time, eventually passing out in alleyways or cardboard boxes – anywhere he could find cover.

He found himself selling cocaine, sleeping on the pavement, crashed out in cheap hotels or couch surfing with some of his drug customers.

“I’ve been stabbed, I’ve been robbed, you never know what will happen each day when you’re on the street. I have slept next to bank machines and woken up with sandwiches and change next to me,” he says. “Definitely not one of my shining moments. It’s not glamorous.”

He tried recovery programs in Kelowna to get away from his past, but the drugs always seemed to follow.

Racking up more than 100 convictions for petty crimes, Adam has spent close to a decade in jail.

Now in recovery, he has a place to stay and a clear focus.

“Addicts living on the street are often smart people, it’s really just distorted thinking and bad habits, that’s what it comes down to.”

NO FIXED ADDRESS: Read the other stories in this Leader special report:

• The homeless: It might not be who you think

• ‘I honestly felt suicide was my only option.’

• ‘I literally have nowhere to go.’

• ‘We’re not drug freaks. We would just love a place to stay.’

• Pushed into despair – and onto the streets

• ‘Once I tried cocaine intravenously, I was done.’

• ‘Everything is a struggle when you don’t have an address.’

• The cost of caring: $7 billion in government services

• ‘ I lost my brother, my mother and my father.’

• ‘Sometimes I would even go to the airport and just pretend I was going somewhere and sleep.’

• Working the NightShift in Surrey

• The solution? In short, more housing







Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A memorial to Hudson Brooks outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment. (File photo)
Officer who fatally shot Hudson Brooks recounts ‘absolutely terrifying’ incident

Const. Elizabeth Cucheran testified at coroner’s inquest Tuesday morning

File photo
Surrey council members give themselves a raise in secret meeting

A redacted report was subsequently posted to the city’s website

Photo posted to facebook.com/HoratioAlgerCA.
Eight Surrey students among 170 Horatio Alger scholarship winners in Canada

‘Need-based scholarships’ given to high school students

Students with Seaquam Secondary’s Delta Youth Advisory Council are collecting non-perishable food donations Feb. 1 to March 5 to help feed local families in need over spring break. (Delta School District/submitted photo)
Seaquam Secondary food drive to help feed 15 North Delta families

Donations can be dropped week days between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. until Monday, March 8

Crews work to build Central Surrey Recycling and Waste Centre in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
PHOTOS/VIDEO: Surrey’s new recycling/waste dropoff site takes shape near Newton business park

‘Central Surrey’ location to make for ‘a convenient one-stop-drop’ by early 2022

Older rental apartments are prime candidates for renovations, and could result in lost affordable housing stock. (Zoë Ducklow photo)
B.C.’s renoviction overhaul a good start, but won’t preserve affordable stock, lawyer says

And still no protection for people who can’t pay rent due to COVID-19

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

The machines are located in four cities across Canada, including Vancouver and Victoria

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

(Black Press file photo)
Agassiz boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

Dr. Amit Desai of St. Francis Hospital receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
B.C. has now vaccinated more people from COVID-19 than total confirmed cases

B.C. has reached a milestone, vaccinating roughly 1.6% of its population from the coronavirus

Most Read