Three years after Lance* disappeared into the throws of a cocaine addiction and a year and a half since he dug his way out, the Columbia Valley Narcotics Anonymous group he started early in his recovery is expanding to offer two weekly meetings.

Narcotics Anonymous will now offer meetings on Saturday mornings in addition to Thursday evenings. Lance will continue running the Thursday meetings, while another freshly-recovering member will host the Saturday ones.

While people have been coming out for the meetings from across the Valley and beyond, Lance said attendance has been low and that he’d like to see more people getting help.

“The program works. Come on out and check it out. It doesn’t hurt to try, right?” he said.

Lance thinks some people who could benefit from the meetings might be ashamed of their drug use and embarrassed to attend.

“We all know you’re out there. Don’t be shy,” he said. “It’s no big secret. We all know you use drugs. Please, go get help. I’d have more respect for you for going to get help than I would to just see you rot at home f—ing getting high,” he said.

He suspects others with addictions might not be coming to Narcotics Anonymous because they are in denial.

“Even if you don’t think you have a problem, come listen to other people’s stories,” he said. “You don’t necessarily need to admit you’re an addict, but you need to come and maybe see what an actual addict looks like if you don’t think you are one because you’ll see a lot of yourself in someone.”

Lance’s story is that he started using drugs at parties and escalated to doing cocaine alone whenever he could. His wife left, he lost friends and family, and his work was in jeopardy. Eventually his addiction grew so fierce that he stopped caring about whether his next high would take his life.

Lance’s addiction continued until – at risk of losing his girlfriend and their baby – he fought to gain control of his life.

“You f— your life up. You ruin yourself. If I would have kept going, where would I be?” he said. “It was bad. I should be dead.”

Since Lance began his recovery in March of 2018, he’s learned to face his problems head on.

“There’s just better ways to handle trauma in your life, and unfortunately most people will resort to a bottle or a drug. Or suicide at the worst-case scenario. And I completely understand how it’s super overwhelming and stressful,” he said.

“Everything you look at as a problem prior or during drug use, it’s all solvable. Put the drugs down and face it. If you don’t face your problems, they’re never going to go away. Just facing them and dealing with them is the biggest thing.”

For instance, when he owned up to his money troubles, Lance talked with his creditor and was able to arrange a payment plan; a much better solution, he said, than masking the problem with drugs.

“It’s been good. It’s hard. You just can’t overwhelm yourself. Just one day at a time, right? Step by step,” he said.

Now that he’s doing better, Lance wants to help others in their recoveries too.

“I just want this problem to rid the Valley,” he said. “I just got to keep grinding, I guess, right? I want to be supportive to the community and give back for being such a sh— ass person.”

Sergeant Darren Kakuno, the detachment commander for the Columbia Valley RCMP, said overdoses in the community in recent years have claimed lives.

“I myself welcome any counselling services that address the drug addictions in our area. These addictions are very difficult to overcome. And those with the addictions, they require all the support we can offer,” he said when the Narcotics Anonymous group started up.

Narcotics Anonymous meetings take place Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. and Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m. at 4878 Athalmer Road. All are welcome.

* Lance’s name has been changed due to the personal nature of his story.