The cycle of addiction is difficult to break free from. However, recovery is not as simple as cutting out a behaviour. It is a progressive journey, often with many setbacks, towards physical and mental wellness.

Don Baker, 64, is a peer support worker in addiction and mental health at the Canadian Mental Health Association in Calgary, where he focuses on “building capacity” by educating people on wellness and safe drug practices. He is a former board member of Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, where he advocated for harm reduction and improving the lives of drug users. Baker says he doesn’t define recovery as being sober but instead sees it as finding balance and value in his life. Video produced by Andrea Wong.

Erica Ritch, 27, says she was a regular drug user, transitioning in and out of shelters “until that one person said the right things to me and helped me change my life.” She began attending Grateful or Dead, a harm reduction group in Calgary, and now regularly volunteers with them in street outreach. Her goal is to help others, including the people she knew from her past, deal with addiction and mental health issues. Ritch attends classes at CMHA with the aim of becoming a peer support worker. Video produced by Andrea Wong.

Editor: Andi Endruhn | 

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