Pubdate: Thu, 25 May 2006
Source: Fort McMurray Today (CN AB)
Copyright: 2006 Fort McMurray Today
Author: Nicole Fitch
Bookmark: (Youth)


On the streets of Vancouver on the Downtown Eastside drug addicts die 
a slow death.

A former addict spoke to Sister Mary Phillips Junior High School 
students on Wednesday about how and why his life became such a mess.

Randy Miller, 52, spent 13 years of his life addicted to heroin and 
cocaine, living a life without any emotion, family or future.

Before all that he was an up-and-coming star athlete talented in 
baseball, hockey and lacrosse.

But he started smoking marijuana, which he calls a "gateway drug," 
and drinking, not knowing anything at all about the addictiveness of drugs.

At 17, after growing up in New Westminster, B.C., Miller moved away 
from home and a father who he says was abusive, and met a girl who 
introduced him to heroin. Miller says he got high every day for a month.

And then he hit skid row.

He slept on the street and sold drugs for dealers, working full-time 
just to feed his own habits.

"For every four hits I sold, I got one free for myself," Miller said.

To the students at Sister Mary Phillips, hearing Miller's story was 
an eye-opener.

After watching a documentary that featured Miller during his time on 
the streets, then listening to Miller's story first-hand, students 
say they'll be staying away from drugs.

Jordan Clarke, 13, was shocked by the images of heroin users' ragged 
scars, adding that his favourite part of the presentation was the video.

"It taught us a lesson to never take drugs, because it is so brutal 
and scary," said Jordan. "I never want to end up like that; that's just dumb."

Miller has been clean for seven years now and says that for the first 
year of doing presentations he was unable to watch the video of 
himself on the streets.

Thrashing around on the streets of Vancouver, not knowing what was 
going on, Miller had no clue that it was common for him to have convulsions.

"Till the film came on I didn't even know I did that. I thought I was 
clapping my hands and singing or something," he told the students.

Miller, who claims he overdosed at least once a month, said family is 
what helps keep him clean today.

But while in Vancouver, he had no idea that he had a growing family, 
after dissociating himself from them entirely.

One day, a police officer asked him if he would like to see his 
brother. Thinking it was some guy he had hung out with on the streets 
who called him his "brother," Miller agreed.

However, it turned out to be his own flesh and blood who brought with 
him a picture of Miller's three nephews, whom he had never met.

Miller's brother wanted him to get clean, but Miller wasn't 
interested and brushed him off, saying he would call him in a week.

He never did. A few weeks later he was in the hospital. He was tested 
for AIDS (the results were negative) and his family showed up to give 
him their support.

Miller has since completed his high school diploma and bought himself 
a new Ford Mustang.

"I don't have to do drugs, I just crank those tunes and go cruising. 
There is no better high that I've ever had."

Having a life that includes nephews to play lacrosse with, as well as 
a girlfriend of five years and a job as a longshoreman, is all Miller 
needs now.

He also enjoys educating kids on the dangers of drugs.

"They need to think about making the right choices. They've got the 
tools now that I've talked to them," he said.

Miller will be speaking at an all-ages show in Anzac tonight, as well 
as to workers at Long Lake before he flies out Friday.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman