Updated: Mar 24
The past ten years have not been easy for Jason. He went through a divorce and lost the custody of his two sons. Jason had criminal justice system involvement and experienced isolation and loneliness. He experienced police harassment. Over the past ten years, Jason has been consistently addicted to fentanyl. Currently, he is the sole caregiver of his elderly mother who has terminal brain cancer.
Jason is a familiar face on the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, particularly in his role as a Chinatown Steward. The Chinatown Stewards program aims to establish a safer and more inclusive community in Chinatown. The Stewards provide services such as helping tourists navigate the area, acting as liaisons between shopkeepers and those experiencing homelessness, using drugs, or loitering in store doorways, and taking needles off the street. This program was the beginning of Jason finding his passion of working with people.
Jason joined SUSEP in June of 2021. At that time, he was using dangerously high amounts of fentanyl and his level of functioning - occupationally, cognitively, and physically - was declining. Jason describes the beginning of his time with SUSEP as coming to realize that he needed help with his substance use, particularly in the context of his employment and health.
Jason's initial goals with the program were to reduce the amount of fentanyl he was using and become involved in supporting other people with their substance use through peer work. He began to address these goals through weekly counselling sessions with SUSEP's therapist, working with his doctor to find the right medications to support him, and making his health and wellness a priority. Within three months, Jason cut his fentanyl use in half and increased his workload. After demonstrating his incredible communication skills and compassion towards others, Jason was hired as SUSEPs first Peer Worker.
Fast forward to February 2022, and Jason quit using fentanyl completely for the first time in a decade! When asked what led to his success, Jason states that it was the steadfast support from SUSEP along with the skills he learned to manage his substance use while remaining in the community and continuing to work the jobs he loves. Jason now spends much of his time helping other people who are on their own healing journeys. He is a huge asset to SUSEP and we couldn't be more proud of him for accomplishing his goals!
Jason and SUSEP's Therapy Dog, Bubba, look deeply into each other's eyes.