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Meet Celestina

Toronto, Ontario

In this video, Celestina shares a bit of her harm reduction story, and speaks to the specific stigma people who use drugs experience when they are homeless/unhoused.

Celestina in a video interview

See Transcript

I’ve always been somebody who really enjoys science, and I get to use my knowledge of the science of how drugs work in the brain a lot in this field.

In my friend group, ecstasy was the big thing back then. It was very popular at first, but then somebody in our friend group passed away from it, so then it became very stigmatized after that. To even like mention that like you know, ecstasy can be different things; there can be other drugs in it, other than MDMA, you could test for them, this can be prevented. But it was because of the air of tragedy; it was just very hard to talk about.

Really the biggest thing is that society needs to reframe its attitudes towards drug use. You know people often, so when the average judgmental person sees somebody who’s homeless using they see it as this hedonistic thing, and it’s like no, it’s not hedonism, it’s a coping mechanism. If you were homeless and you weren’t safe, you didn’t have a roof over your head, people either do meth and stay awake for as long as they can. So, they don’t have to worry about sleeping because when people sleep, that’s when their stuff gets jacked and everything. Or, they do opiates to help them sleep on cold hard pavements. And I think like a lot of people who just, you know, see people who are homeless, who are using, and are so quick to cast it as this hedonistic thing. I don’t think they really stop and think about like, they would do it too.

It really shocks me, but also breaks my heart, seeing sometimes people’s reaction just me speaking to them like they’re a normal person. That’s the most shocking thing to them, and it’s so clear that they’re not used to being talked to normally. And it’s just, as soon as you talk to someone like they’re a human being, rather than a disease, it’s amazing how much they open up to you.