Raising Dough with Santa Lucia Pizza and 92.1 CITI!

2nd Annual Hockey Night in Canada Gala Dinner at Canad Inns Polo Park!

'We are salvageable': A Manitoba inmate's plea for meth addiction treatment

'Please believe these words: we are worth fighting for,' struggling addict Jason Walmsley writes from jail

Jason Walmsley, an inmate at Headingley Correctional Centre, pleads for public understanding and better treatment options for those living with meth addiction. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

I lay awake at night wondering where all this heartache will eventually lead. When the dire consequences of the choices I've made will ultimately come to pass. 

I cannot imagine an outcome that doesn't involve immense pain and loneliness, sorrow and deserved misery; especially when those outcomes are warranted.

In my world, you become accustomed to losing friends and loved ones, with most days being spent lost among a thousand regrets, with some of the scars of choices long past the point of being able to mend.

Of being able to make right.

I am the crisis our city talks about, the emergency our province has publicly declared. But I never wanted to be this person, this plague on our society.- Jason Walmsley

Disappointment and shame are commonplace here, with a unique pain others will hopefully never come to know — a daily life and death struggle, God willing, you will never personally understand. 

Believe me, this life is not something you want to understand — it's something you want to turn from, to run from. 

I am an addict. 

Jason Walmsley discusses his struggle with addiction:

CBC News Manitoba
Inmate makes plea for drug treatment and understanding for addicts
03:11 06:38
"We're not a lost cause. We are salvageable," Jason Walmsley says in plea for help for struggling addicts. 6:38

You read of me often in the news and have likely been affected by the selfish and destructive choices I've made.  I am the crisis our city talks about, the emergency our province has publicly declared.

But I never wanted to be this person, this plague on our society.

I wanted to be a counsellor. A decent man who helped others. Not a drug addict who hurt them.

Words in my world mean little. And apologizing in yours does not lessen the impact my choices have made on your community. Still though, for anything this may be worth, I am sorry.

I have been a failure, a disappointment to those who know me, a wayward cause that on paper, most would agree is a lost one. A worthless one. 

I swear I am not.

'We are all held accountable for our actions'

There is goodness within me, although goodness within me means little when hidden from sight, behind years of self centred and self-destructive behaviour. I am far from the decent man I grew up wanting to be, amassing dozens of criminal convictions throughout my lifetime, in support of a 16-year addiction.

Life for me has been difficult. But to play victim to the circumstances I have created for myself is to continue the self-destructive behaviour.

I cannot do that. I will not do that.

What we need is help — your help. I know we are not the noblest cause to fight for, and at times we will certainly be a losing battle.- Jason Walmsley

Writing about the man who sexually assaulted me at 14-years-old, describing the bachelor apartment that became his prison when he locked the double-sided deadbolt with me inside — no one wants to read about that. My inclination is to blame 16 years of drug abuse on this man.

But it was not his fault then. And it is not his fault now.

I am responsible.

I understand why that 14-year-old boy wanted desperately to forget and escape what had begun his reality, and I accept that drugs provided that for him. He escaped and for a time, he forgot — but that does not excuse his decision turning to drugs for the answer, as understandable as this may have been.

Eventually, we are all held accountable for our actions, eventually we must all answer the regrets of our past. Now I must answer mine.

'Prison, insanity or death'

I lay awake at night, knowing I will end up alone, hoping the day will come when I no longer allow drugs to hold my future hostage — but this is my fairy tale.

I learned long ago not everyone's story has a happy ending, and for the practising addict, there are only ever three outcomes: prison, insanity or death.

Drugs may have been my closest friend and desired escape for years, but they will always be my slow and inevitable death. Eventually, enough becomes enough and too much becomes unbearable.

Sooner or later I will succumb to an overdose or suicide; prison or permanent psychosis. What kind of outcomes are these? What kind of hope is this to have?

What we need is help — your help. I know we are not the noblest cause to fight for, and at times we will certainly be a losing battle, bringing into question the morality of even fighting for us. 

We will test you and piss you off, deceive you and manipulate you, but please believe these words:

We are worth fighting for.

Together, we can lay the foundation that will bring out the best in who we are, and the best of who we can become — but this can only be achieved together.- Jason Walmsley

We suffer silently, only ever showing the worst of ourselves for the world to see, but this is not who we are. We are your sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and we desperately need your help now more than ever.

Why? Because we're not a lost cause. We are salvageable.

The Bruce Oake Recovery Centre is an important example of the help we need. This proposed centre will be at the forefront of our road to recovery, a cornerstone from which the community can begin the difficult process of healing, and the addict of recovering.

By saying yes to the Bruce Oake Recovery Centre, you're helping to create a future beyond prison and death for addicts. 

Together, we can lay the foundation that will bring out the best in who we are, and the best of who we can become — but this can only be achieved together.

We are worth fighting for. I am worth fighting for.

Jason Walmsley


This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jason Walmsley

Winnipeg-born Jason Walmsley, 30, is currently an inmate at Headingley Correctional Centre in Manitoba. He has spent more than 18 years learning first-hand the desperation associated with the addicted life. He believes finding a solution to addiction must begin with addressing the root causes and offering long-term residential treatment, at little or no cost.

Back