In August of 2013, Jared Evely of Victoria, Conception Bay North purchased a Cadillac Escalade.
Buying the high-end sport utility vehicle was a big moment for the 27-year-old. It marked one year of his success in the province's methadone program.
Jared spent years with an opioid addiction, which began in 2005 as "just a few pills." But those few pills eventually led into a full-blown addiction. He would snort crushed pills, and after that was no longer effective, he began injecting them.
For the last six months prior to entering the program, he was injecting heroin regularly.
In 2012, after being confronted by his mom, he realized he needed help.
A star athlete in high school, Jared came from a loving family with two older sisters and parents who supported him in everything he did. Many would not believe this popular teenager would ever resort to taking drugs.
He was not long out of high school when he started using prescription medication recreationally.
First, he was offered Percocet, and noted, "The first time is usually free." Then he tried Dilaudid. Both are classified as opioids, or narcotic pain medication, and are highly addictive. Once he felt the high of the drugs, he began doing it more.
He never believed a few pills here and there would be so influential on his life, but after several years of insufflation (snorting) it became a dependency.
"At first, I'd take a few just to take the edge off," Jared told The Compass in an interview last month. "Then it was all weekend with friends."
Some of the people who were a part of Jared's inner circle - the drug users in his group - began using the stronger drug oxycodone, known as "oxy." He was offered it, but initially resisted.
"For two years I held out from using oxy," he explained, but eventually gave in. "I could take 16 (Dilaudid or Percocet), or to get the same effect, take one oxy."
After he began taking oxycodone, it became his drug of choice to snort until 2010, when he picked up his first syringe.
Trying the needle
Jared had a large group of friends, but only a small few were part of the inner circle. Most of them inhaled prescription medications, but a few began to inject them.
"We as snorters looked at injectors as losers, junkies," he explained. "Some people were shooting up, while others were hiding it. It never crossed my mind that we were the same."
He never believed he would pick up a syringe to inject a drug into his blood stream, but he became desperate.
Jared explained if an addict doesn't have drugs for a couple of days, they have to get a fix. And after learning he had friends who were "shooting up," he decided he would give it a try.
"I thought, 'there's got to be something to it,'" he said.
The high was intense, so much so Jared considered it an addict's euphoria.
"I thought, 'I missed out on this for so long,'" he explained. "After injecting, you don't go back."
Eight pills a day. That was the average number he was injecting. At $40 each, it was an easy way to dispose of his income.
An expensive habit
During his addiction, when he wasn't home in Victoria, Jared spent his time working in Edmonton. It was there he was introduced to heroin, a drug derived from morphine.
After switching to heroin, he realized it was so easy to come by in Alberta.
"Heroin is so much cheaper," he stated. "And the high is so much better."
He would take home $2,400 a week on his Friday paycheque. By Wednesday, he'd be calling his mom asking for money.
At one point - when he was stuck for a fix - he sold his PlayStation 3 for a "few pills."
Jared rolled up his sleeves to show his arms. He has almost no scaring, something he attributes to careful practices.
"I've never, ever shared a needle," he asserted. "It makes me sick just to think of that."
But he has witnessed this behaviour - people sharing and reusing needles. He would buy a box of 100 syringes, and always use a new one. He has even left boxes of new, sterile syringes for others when he has seen them share or reuse them.
In summer 2012, Jared was at his parents' home in Victoria. He was back on prescription drugs because, he said, heroin is hard to come by in Newfoundland.
After having an argument with his mom, he stormed out to his car. His mom followed.
"'How long have you been shooting dope for,' mom asked me," Jared recalled. "That's when I broke down."
After a visit with his family doctor, he was recommended for the methadone program. It took several months to begin treatment, but Jared said it was well worth it for him. He began taking methadone - a liquid that is consumed - every day.
The most difficult thing he experienced with the program is the lack of local supports. He would have to drive to Paradise to see a doctor every week for a prescription. The prescription could be filled at a local pharmacy.
Without a visit to the doctor, there would be no prescription.
"Without that prescription, without the methadone, addicts still need their fix," Jared stated.
That's why some people don't get clean. He explained these people who have a doctor in the St. John's area and have to travel from out of town - some as far as Stephenville - have a difficult time sticking with the program. These people turn back to drugs.
"There are a lot of flaws with the program," Jared said. "And I thought it was time to speak out."
Editor's note: In the April 7 edition of The Compass, Jared describes some significant problems he has witnessed with the methadone program, while health officials with the province also weigh in.