Ralphy was tired of seeing his friends die.
“I lost five friends in one week. It’s something that stays with you,” said Ralphy.
He grew up in an abusive household, regularly receiving beatings that were so severe that he couldn’t sit down. Still, Ralphy didn’t turn to drugs until his stepfather was murdered by an angry employee at a local factory.
This tragedy led to an addiction to fentanyl.
It took a long time before Ralphy was ready to quit. Seeing so many of his friends die from overdose made him want to change things.
Ralphy learned how to use naloxone to reverse overdoses. He advocated at regional council in support of the Region’s Consumption and Treatment Services on Duke Street, where he both used the service and worked as a peer support worker.
When House of Friendship opened its Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) clinic on the upper floor of the building, Ralphy was one of the first people to get treated there.
“The fact that this building is not just a safe consumption site any longer, but now also a place to get better – that makes a huge difference.”
At the RAAM clinic, Ralphy meets with a nurse practitioner to get medicine for his withdrawal symptoms. Ralphy can also meet with a counsellor and peer support worker, helping him work through the beginning stages of recovery.
“It was really hard to quit until this place opened up. I can go and do things that I couldn’t do before. I’m not worried about getting sick from withdrawal.”
Ralphy is homeless, living in a tent, and has many friends who are struggling with addiction. The RAAM clinic made him feel welcome, and he lets his friends know that they can get help here, without having to make an appointment – all they have to do is show up.
Thank you for walking with people like Ralphy! When we work together to remove barriers to addiction treatment, lives are saved!
Learn more about how you can make a difference and ensure that everyone can belong and thrive in Waterloo Region! Receive inspirational stories about how you are making a difference right to your inbox.