A former drug addict who has been clean for more than six months has spoken out about his experience and the need for more support and understanding for people struggling with substance abuse.
How a pain medication led to a long battle with addiction
Corey Pearson, who suffers from chronic and severe mental health issues, says his addiction started when he was prescribed pain medication after a fall. He says the drugs gave him a sense of euphoria and distracted him from his depression.
He says he went from using prescription medication to buying a range of drugs online, without knowing what they contained. He overdosed and nearly died on multiple occasions.
How he decided to seek help and recover
Corey says what convinced him to seek help was realizing that his life was heading towards two options: jail or death. He says he received professional support and medical treatment for his addiction, as well as the support of his family.
He says recovery has been messy and painful, but also hopeful and rewarding. He says he feels that he has a chance at life now, where there was no hope before.
How peer support and creative therapy helped him
Corey says peer support has played a crucial role in his recovery. He attends Creative Change Collective weekly, a group that uses theatre and performance therapy to help people work through their issues with addiction.
He says the group helps him to be creative, have a laugh, and enjoy himself. He says recovery is not to be endured, but to be enjoyed.
One of the group’s facilitators, Emma Simpson, says she has seen many people transform from being anxious and sceptical to being vocal and committed.
How he helps others who are in the same situation
Corey also presents at schools about addiction and works with recovery groups across Glasgow. He says he knows how to practically help someone who has overdosed and is trained to use naloxone, a medication that temporarily reverses the effect of an overdose.
He says he recently saved a young man’s life by administering an injection when he collapsed outside the group’s building. He says most people would stigmatize and ignore him, but he sees him as a human being who is suffering.
How he supports drug consumption rooms and drug checking facilities
Corey says he is in favour of drug consumption rooms and drug checking facilities, which are places where people can use drugs safely and find out what is in them. He says these services could prevent overdoses and infections, as well as provide access to treatment and support.
The Scottish Government says it is planning to submit applications to the Home Office for drug-checking facilities in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee in the coming months.
How he calls for more compassion and resources for drug users
Corey says the most important thing that needs to change is people’s perceptions of those struggling with substance abuse. He says people don’t see them as people with a sickness, an illness that they have no control or choice over. He says they are desperately trying to survive.
He says if the stigma around drug use changed, then it could lead to more resources being allocated to drug and alcohol services. He says he is not asking for people to condone his actions, but to have an empathic and compassionate attitude towards him and others like him.