Toronto Homeless Woman Trying to Kick Her Heroin Addiction

– [Interviewer] Karla,
we’re here in Toronto. – Yeah. – [Interviewer] You’re out here homeless. – Yes. – [Interviewer] Tell me about it. – I’ve been out here for
four and a half years now. I got taken to Elizabeth
Fry after being arrested and because that didn’t work good for me, the guy that set me up
at the treatment center I was supposed to go to at
the last minute canceled on me ’cause they didn’t know I
was on Suboxone, apparently, and you weren’t allowed to be on Suboxone and I couldn’t stay at
Elizabeth Fry anymore and those were my conditions to either be at Elizabeth
Fry or treatment. So, I got kind of screwed over there and we came home and was on the streets. I didn’t know anybody when I got here. I’m from Hall Landing, originally, which is small little town. So this, to me, was a big shock down here. I used to smoke crack and I
quit a year and a half ago, but that was a big shock,
my first trap experience. It was 30 people in a room
when I went in one day, ’cause it was raining, I
broke in the doors with a card and there was 30 people in
there trying to sell me crack. Everybody was trying to convince me that they had the best kind and I quit because I
started doing Fentanyl, which is even worse. – [Interviewer] Oh my gosh. – Yeah, ’cause you can’t have both, ’cause Fentanyl’s more important. But I was doing 10 points of that a day and I’m down to half a point. I did try Methadone for a period of time. I quit for three and a half months, but at Christmas and New Years, I didn’t realize they were
only open for an hour. I missed that twice and
I wanted to kill myself. It was the worst, worst experience
of not having something, worst withdrawal from any
drug you could ever have, any kind of heroin or Fentanyl. Methadone was the worst. I will never ever go past 60 mils again. – [Interviewer] So, you’re
trying to wean yourself off? – Yeah, I’m still doing Methadone, but never more than 60 mils. – [Interviewer] Right. – I was at 120 when that
happened, it was horrible. – [Interviewer] So you’re
doing the Methadone Clinic? – Yeah. The True North Methadone. – [Interviewer] Okay. – You can do that without ID. – [Interviewer] People don’t understand how, two things, how hard it
is to stay sober out here– – It’s very hard. – [Interviewer] I mean,
homelessness sucks. I was just helping you with your bags, you’re trying to balance here, it’s– – They fell all over. – [Interviewer] It’s freezing,
and you’re sleeping outside. – All the shelters are full, yep. Even the res beds are full,
the drop-ins are full, if you get into a drop-in,
you’re standing up all night. It’s horrible, it’s horrible. – [Interviewer] So, heroin
helps take all the pain away. – Yeah, and you can
fall asleep. (chuckles) – [Interviewer] Yeah, and
people don’t understand that and then once you’re on heroin, you get, you can’t stop. – No, ’cause you’re sick and
your whole body hurts so bad, you can’t move without it. – [Interviewer] Right, it’s
like the worst flu times 1000. – Yep. – [Interviewer] That
anybody’s ever experienced and the only way to get better is to fix. – And wean yourself off, though. That’s the only way because
you can’t just stop. It doesn’t work like that. – [Interviewer] So, huge props to you– – Thank you. – [Interviewer] For trying to get off and doing it while you’re
living out here, I mean– – I’m going to. I’m determined. I’ll come and talk to you again when I do. – [Interviewer] Good! Good, that would be great. – I just want to say one more thing. My first year here, I spent a whole year and, well the Winter, in the Porta Potty. The only way to keep warm, other than if you lie on one of those heat vents, is get water from Tim
Horton’s, the hot tea water, and water bottles and fill ’em up and put them in your
sleeping bag or your bed or in your pants and your shirt. – [Interviewer] Oh my gosh. – That keeps you warm. – [Interviewer] And then
you slept in Porta Potties? – Yes. No one could steal your stuff. (laughs) – [Interviewer] Oh my god. – That’s the only way. – [Interviewer] That’s no way to live. – Otherwise, your stuff’s getting stolen. Someone’s gonna come check it for sure. – [Interviewer] Well
that’s what somebody said to me last night. I said, why don’t you go into a shelter? And they said, well I like my stuff. – Yeah. – [Interviewer] ‘Cause
I go into a shelter, I’m gonna lose everything or they don’t allow everything to go in. – Yep. Same thing. – [Interviewer] So
what’s your future like? – Well, I’m gonna quit
doing drugs and get a place. I’m working towards that now, getting a place is my main goal and quitting, and then
getting my kids back. – [Interviewer] Awesome. – Well not getting them back, seeing them, ’cause they can’t really see me like this. – [Interviewer] Gotcha. I have 24 years sober. I was not here–
– Congratulations. – [Interviewer] But I was
outside in the States, so you can do it. – I’ve done it for two and a half years, I got clean and sober, but
that was only on crack, so I know I can do it again. – [Interviewer] Yeah, you definitely can. You definitely can. What would you want people
to know about homelessness that they probably don’t know? – You should try it one time and then you would understand. Get outside in the cold one night. Very cold. – [Interviewer] In the Toronto cold. – In Toronto, yes. It has to be Toronto, not anywhere else. – [Interviewer] Not a Florida cold. The Toronto cold. Oh my gosh. And how do you stay positive? I mean, where are you sleeping tonight? – Outside. Sometimes you break into
buildings with cards if you can get in, if there’s not security and go in the stairwell
until you get caught. – [Interviewer] Well you do
whatever you can to stay warm. – Or beg for change so
you can go into McDonald’s or Tim Horton’s, those are
the only two things open. There’s only four of
them, I think, around here that are open and yeah, beg for change for that and sometimes they’ll
only give you 20 minutes, sometimes security’s really retarded and if you’re in the bathroom
longer than five minutes, they’ll call the cops on you. (laughs) – [Interviewer] And then, but
the cops can’t do anything, there’s no place to take you. – They’ll take you to the
hospital and then they let you go. – [Interviewer] Well people
are freezing outside. – Yep, yeah. – [Interviewer] How do you keep the smile? I mean, you’re in good
spirits and you’re gonna be– – I have some money. I have some money, so I’m good. For the night. – [Interviewer] For the night– – That’s why I’m happy. – [Interviewer] That’s why you’re happy? So, you’re gonna make it, a day at a time. – And I have some heroin (laughs) – [Interviewer] A day at a time. – Yeah. – [Interviewer] If you had three
wishes, what would they be? – A place, my kids, my family. – [Interviewer] Great wishes. Thank you very much for talking to me. – Thank you. (slow rhythmic music)

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