‘Do or die’: recovering addict shares journey in Saskatchewan documentary

Megan Poole remembers feeling confused as she woke up surrounded by three paramedics who had treated her for a drug overdose.

She knew others in her circle had overdosed using the same drugs, but the now-25-year-old said she never expected it to happen to her.

“I thought I was invincible to the drug and waking up after that first overdose, I almost didn’t want to believe it,” Poole said.

It was January 2018 – the first of three overdoses she survived.

Her first “dance with the devil” was at age 14 when she tried alcohol to address feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.

“The disease was no longer dormant,” she said.

Megan Poole recovering in hospital.

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Poole’s addiction evolved to include cocaine and OxyContin when alcohol no longer masked her feelings. At 23, her usage was “spiraling out of control.”

Her’s story is including in a documentary series that premiered Tuesday at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon.

On the Frontlines of the Addictions Crisis in Saskatchewan is a partnership between the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN), doctors, police, teachers, counsellors, families and people who have been affected by addiction.

Just over one month following her first overdose, she experienced her third after taking two pills together that “basically tranquilized” her.

During the episode, she’d injured her arm to the point where doctors considered amputation. Her kidney failure required dialysis and she needed extensive physiotherapy.

Poole has been sober for nearly nine months.

“I was at a point in my life where it was do or die and I didn’t want to die,” Poole said.

The documentary series aims to combat stigma and stereotypes of the so-called “face of addiction,” while providing education on root causes of the problem. It’s also meant to create dialogue around societal solutions.

The first step is to admit that Saskatchewan is experiencing an opioid crisis, said SUN president Tracy Zambory.

The issue is personal for the union head, whose 29-year-old son is a recovering addict.

Wessley Zambory’s mother and father found out he was using cannabis when he was in Grade 8, his mother said. He later came forward and told his parents he was in trouble with cocaine.

From left to right: Wessley, Richard and Tracy Zambory.

“I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me,” Tracy said, describing the moment.

He later snorted and injected OxyContin. Heroin was another vice. His addiction was intensifying.

With support from his partner and family, Wessley got his first dose of methadone in January 2018. He is now working in finance and is surrounded by people who support him.

“His is a story of hope … he’s got his life back,” Tracy said.

Her son, Tracy said, is also an example of how addiction can strike any person, regardless of false assumptions around class and status.

“We all have to come together to solve this problem.”

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