Street Tales: Carrying through tough times equals progress


Sunday evenings are for relaxing and preparing for the week to come, and that is just what we were doing when the phone rang. “Hey cook, it’s me”. I recognized the voice and greeted him warmly. Not having heard from him for over two months, it was surprisingly good to hear his French accent.

After the greetings, we asked each other how we were doing and his response was quite uplifting. “Yeah, I finally had enough and no more hiding, I went to a new church and I really like it”, his voice was almost excited as he went on. “This pastor, he is really good and he got me into quitting weed once and for all; I’ve only been four days without, and it feels good. Both my weed and my cigarettes are floating down the river; that’s the longest time ever that I’ve been without!”

Our conversation went on for almost half an hour and we hung up with pledges to keep in touch. I also asked him to keep me up to date with his quitting. In view of the sights we’ve seen and the news we’ve been reading and hearing about the antics of addicts, to hear this kind of news was very uplifting for me, especially from this fellow because we always had a good relationship.

The one thing that always cheered me up at the kitchen was when we knew someone was trying once again to quit the drugs, alcohol, even cigarettes. We always tried our best to encourage them and support them in their battle, because it was always an uphill fight for them. Sometimes they win but often they would relapse, but rather than criticize them for it, we would urge them to stand up and try again because we knew eventually they would be successful.

One of the most distressing things for someone trying to quit and then relapsing is to see the shame and guilt they feel, which can really hamper them trying again. Sometimes it takes a while, but then the desire to be free rises once again and the fight begins all over.

While I was in the throes of quitting smoking, I would stop for a while and then like a fool start up again. This happened several times during which time I was told that the average long term smoker often made about seven attempts before succeeding. I pushed it to the limit, and felt this is what made me so empathetic to the trials these folks go through.

As people with no visible bad habits or addictions, what could and should be our response to what we see happening throughout our community? It is now obvious that addictions are not restricted to the city core, they are prevalent all over the city. I spoke with a service technician lately while he was servicing an apartment downtown; I mentioned that it must be harder to work downtown rather than in newer neighborhoods to which he replied that it is the same all over Red Deer. So what should be our response?

I fully believe that we have to start at a point before addiction sets in. As well, we have to realize that there is no such thing as a recreational drug. One can consume a limited amount of alcohol without impairment but it is true that too much is also mind altering, but drugs are much more immediate.

Once we find out why people feel the need, we have a point at which time we can put up a good fight to help them overcome those urges. When an addict, or someone about to become one, sees that we are willing to help carry them through the tough times, we will witness a phenomenon – progress!

Chris Salomons is a Retired Red Deer Resident with a concern for the downtrodden

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