I’m a Junkie and You Are, Too

My journey has taught me that addiction is a spectrum — one we’re all on

Erin Steele
Human Parts
Published in
6 min readJul 23, 2019

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Photo: Sophia Hernandez/EyeEm/Getty Images

I’I’m a junkie and you are, too. I’m reclaiming that word because, as a society, we’ve got it all wrong. Besides, I’ve been silent for far too long, and my fellow humans need me to be loud.

Recent events in my city, and probably in your city, too, have illuminated a widespread fear, anger, and mistrust of people with addictions. Here in Kelowna, British Columbia, a plan to build supportive housing for homeless people — many with addictions — was met with shaking fists. Neighbors petitioned, hoisting signs that said “Harm Reduction for Our Children” and “No More Junkie Motels.” A local news site even published a letter equating “junkies” to feral rabbits that should be euthanized.

That’s why I’m done being silent and I’m done being nonspecific. Up until now, when I’ve had to say it, I’ll say that I’ve struggled with “addictions” and let you decide what that means. I’ll let you feel comfortable while I stay hidden and protected. And that’s detrimental to those I understand better than I ever let on.

Today I’m part of many fulfilling communities. I’ve run full marathons, won journalism awards, and helped start a small community’s first Pride event. I’m close with my family, and I ride my bike to work…

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Erin Steele
Human Parts

Writer based in Kelowna, BC, Canada. My literary memoir forthcoming from Caitlin Press Oct. 2024. Find me at erinsteele.substack.com.