Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pipes, Crack and more

This afternoon I went to ARC for an event organised jointly by Stockton Council's Drug Action Team (DAT) and Arts Development Team. Users of the DAT services had been working over a period of weeks with professional artists and members of the Arts Development service on creative writing and visual arts, using them to explore and come to terms with their feelings as they tried to move away from their ruinous lifestyle.
The writing was particularly moving and enlightening. I've heard it said and recognised the blindingly obvious truth that substance misuse is initially pleasurable. That's why people get hooked on it. If the first experience was unadulterated misery who would go back for a second go? The poems and prose on display today told the same story - Crack, Heroin and all the paraphernalia are simultaneously a best friend and a worst enemy. The fear of being attacked, the degradation of living in that way, the physical pain of needing the next fix, the emotional pain of knowing that the family and all around are suffering - these are all weighed in the balance against the blessed relief given by the drug.
One line of one poem struck me for its sheer practicality and as an indictment of the failure of "the system" to protect those trying to get out of trouble: entitled "survival guide" it started off"Change your doctor because people will try to sell you shit as you go in and out".
At present, all of the people taking part in the project are fighting to tip the balance of their lives towards normal. I wish them success. I hope that the DAT can find more ways of helping more people to make that step. I wish that more councillors had taken the time to go and see what was happening and to let the participants know that we support what they're doing.
The results of the project are going to be put into a magazine and circulated. I hope it changes the perceptions of those who read it and I congratulate those who were brave enough to take part in the project.

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