Thierry Rebiffe, age 24, is a person who has used drugs and has survived several overdoses.

Every encounter counts: how compassion helped change one man’s story

09/03/2017 3:37:36 PM | 7 comments |

This story is part of Fraser Health’s Compassion Matters campaign – a series of stories about compassion in the face of the overdose crisis, as told by some of those most impacted by the crisis.  Read more of these stories.

I first used drugs when I was 14 and it came from a sense of self-hatred, I guess I would call it.

When I was six, I was treated for a rare blood disease that caused blood flow to stop to my legs. I spent 15 months strapped in a wheelchair, with hip-to-ankle casts on both of my legs. And you know, kids are mean. It was a terrible, terrible time. I didn’t have a lot of friends in school and I’d get shut out of groups.

I started being my own worst enemy. I’d find things that would dull my pain of not fitting in, like fighting a lot, so if I couldn’t ‘fit in,’ at least I could be tougher than them. I started cutting myself as well. I hurt myself physically so that if I could handle that pain, then the pain of everything else would seem less, but then other people saw the cuts and made fun of me for that.

When I was 13, I was drinking and smoking weed and doing other drugs. What people fail to understand is that nobody makes the choice early on to have their quality of life taken away, to eat garbage and be an addict – nobody chooses that. If they did, then they could choose not to be an addict and it would be easy, right? 

When your drug use becomes a drug dependency, there’s no choice left.

When I overdosed the first time, I didn’t want to be alive anymore. I was so depressed and torn up inside. I didn’t think that anything was going to be any different now.

Two months later, I overdosed three more times, and I still didn’t want to stop using because it was the only thing I had to numb my pain.  

The turning point for me was when I got into a car accident and ended up in the hospital.  Having someone there talk to me about getting help, gave me a moment to think, ”Maybe I can do this.” A man who worked there talked to me about his struggles of growing up in poverty, surrounded by incredible racism and violence. He told me you can move past things like that and still get what you want out of life. It made me think about myself, how I’d been through my own struggle, and I started to think, just because I suffer now doesn’t mean I’m always going to suffer.

If I had known people out there understood what I was going through, my life could’ve been a lot different. Once society stops looking at people who are addicted like human garbage, it will make people feel more confident to confront their addiction. All you have to do is treat people like your neighbour, and you’ll get a way better response. 

Thierry my true friend. Amazing article buddy once I read this it brought me right back to our T-Group at MRTC. You have always been there for me through some very hard times and I just would like to take this time to thank you for being the true friend that you are. You tough me how to just be myself and fear no judgement from anybody. I love how I can just be myself around you and fear nothing. You have come a long way Thierry and you worked very hard to get where you are today and YOU ARE WORTH IT !!! Love you bro ;-D
24/03/2017 6:55:14 PM

Mary Ann Amigo
I agree that compassion towards hurting people will mean a lot. Darkness cannot cover even the smallest light.So pain inside
ones heart is seeking an exit and compassion is the bridge. To everyone who is struggling your future is not defined by your past. GOD has the final say and no matter where youre at you can have a new beginning..
23/03/2017 10:15:54 PM

Thank you for sharing your story. That takes courage. You have come a long way and I commend you for your efforts.
Looking back at your story your journey was filled with pain and hardship and you made choices that affected the path your life journey would take knowingly or unknowingly it worked for you at the time abd continued to work for you.
Driving downtown today I commented how nice it was that the city was putting in place such beautiful places for people to view or benches for people to sit. No sooner had I said that did we see a man passed out under a tree with trash everywhere. We turned a corner to travel two blocks and find trash and homeless spread out everywhere. It was a sad site. I went to a fast food restaurant with my family a man cam in with his pants around his ankles they were too big to stay up on him. He proceeded to check out everyone's food at every table then checked all the cars and panhandlers us on our way out the door. It became an unpleasant day.
What I hear is some of us had more advantages better beginnings privileges.
No I can say I didnt. I grew up in 13 different homes. I was tossed from family to family. I was abused mentally physically and sexually. I was beaten daily. I was fed garbage or not fed at all. I suffered tremendous pain and liw self worth. I too had choices. I drank in highschool.
But I graduated even though I married young and gave birth to a disabled child. I went to college. I got a degree. I got a career.
What I didnt get was an addiction a drug habit a criminal record. We all make choices. Now that you have made a great choice live your life to the fullest. You will be challenged you will experience pain but you will get through it.
23/03/2017 6:53:57 PM

Great article. Anxiety has allot to do with drug use. If we could fine more natural ways to medicate there would be less side effects and people would use drugs less.
21/03/2017 3:26:54 PM

Thank you so much for being willing to share your story. It was so encouraging to read and amazing what you've lived through- truly God must have a special purpose to your life and that you've survived what you went through shows such strength and persevance. I hope your life story will be able to be read by many and spur others on to not give up, seek help and know that it is definitely possible to change!
20/03/2017 4:07:44 PM

Hannah Paul
This campaign is further evidence of Fraser Health mismanaging resources. Compassion would come in the form of placing more workers and services on the front lines, which may actually help people in need.
19/03/2017 11:08:16 AM

I too struggle with addiction. Throughout the recovery process I've met people from all different circumstances, including many homeless people.I agree wholeheartedly that compassion can make all the difference.I was out with afriend one day and when he saw homeless people asking for a bit of change he made the comment that he has worked for everything he has. What people fail to understand is that they probably had a better starting point in their lives, and probably had opportunities along the way that a lot of us haven't had. Especially those of us that are struggling with addiction. In most of the stories I've heard the use of alcohol and drugs starts at a young age, before we are even equipted to be making choices like that. I strongly believe that education that. Educating people( including young people) is the key to slowing down the cycle of addiction and also to help people to have some understanding and compassion towards everyone.
15/03/2017 6:49:34 AM

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