Life as an addict is an all-too-serious reality for thousands of people. And unless someone actually battles addiction themselves or watches as a friend or family member does, it's difficult for people to understand.
It drives me insane when people chirp up about "personal choice," assuming they know everything there is to know about an addict.
I'm sure an addict doesn't choose to become addicted, despite what so many people believe. It's an illness, just like cancer or heart disease. But because there is such a stigma attached to addiction - whether it be to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, food - many people are unable to empathize with the addict.
Instead many view addicts in a negative light, completely shunning them society. This does nothing to help and in fact makes things worse. Whereas someone may reach out for help in a more understanding society, the person instead hides, falling deeper into addiction.
There are many psychological reasons behind why people become addicted - whether physically or psychologically - and without understanding of the disease by many people, it's hard for them to recover. It's not as simple as "just quitting" like many ignorant of how an addiction takes a hold of a person usually assume.
In recent years research into how addiction manifests itself has shed some light onto the issue, leaving those who care to understand with a road to follow. With a stronger understanding of how addiction can take over a person's life, people are left with more options for treatment.
One such option, which has been under scrutiny since opening in 2003, is InSite, Canada's only supervised safe injection site. Located in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, the location provides intravenous drug users with a safe place to inject drugs.
By providing users with a safe injection site, the chances of overdosing and the transmission of Hepatitis C and HIV is decreased. However, the safe injection site is scrutinized by many as condoning drug use and therefore encouraging addiction.
But the situation is not so cut and dry.
Addiction is nothing something that can be cured overnight. The road to recovery is long. It takes months, sometimes years, of therapy and addictions counselling for an addict to overcome the challenges in his or her life which led to the addiction in the first place.
Sometimes hearing a former addict speak is one of the best eye-openers as people can hear first hand how difficult it is to overcome addiction. Often the person deals with the temptation of this former addiction for the rest of his or her life, never fully cured.
With this said, safe injection sites can benefit an addict as it provides the person with a safe environment and a place where he or she knows there is help. The site also limits the amount of used needles scattered on the streets.
This is partially what prompted two nursing students in Prince Albert to raise awareness about a possible safe injection site in that city. The two planned to approach city council with the idea.
A site such as this in Prince Albert would also prove beneficial in the fight against HIV in the province. Saskatchewan has the highest HIV rates per capita in all of Canada - in fact it's four times higher than the national average. Seventy-five percent of the cases are a result of intravenous drug use; therefore a safe injection site would limit the spread of this deadly virus.
And while a safe injection site would by no means solve the problem, it would be a start.