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A careful balancing act

Greg sits patiently in a waiting room at the Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) in Kings Cross. This is a place he knows well, having seen people come and go in the 11 years he has frequented the Centre.

A reliable tradie, (waterproofer) Greg has held his job for over 20 years. He has also had a difficult time trying to balance other parts of his life. Greg has had a heroin addiction for most of that time, and although it has been challenging, Greg has been able to maintain good health.

The MSIC supervises episodes of drug injecting that would otherwise happen elsewhere – often in public, and under inherently more dangerous conditions. Instead, drug injection occurs in a health service under the supervision of registered nurses and counsellors and health education officers. There is immediate access to emergency medical care in the event of an overdose or adverse event.

Greg is a Kings Cross local, having lived in the area for quite some time. His mother lives in Queensland, and he described himself as an only child. As an afterthought he added, “Well I did have a sister, but she passed away.” Greg’s sister died of a drug overdose at the age of 21. “I was a late bloomer, I didn’t take up drugs until I was in my late twenties,” says Greg.

His approach to his addiction has been a careful balancing act. Cautious enough to be able to wake up and go to work each morning but still use when he feels he needs to. His relationship with the staff at the MSIC has been one of support, as the MSIC recognises that drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing condition. MSIC does not support or promote drug use; it simply acknowledges that it is a fact of life.

Greg recently participated in a Christmas card designing competition, in which his design was one of the ten selected for the Uniting Christmas cards of 2014. The landscape he drew as the main design is reminiscent of the countryside he lived in for eight years. It reminds him of his need to be connected to nature in any way, which Greg loves, even in his inner city surroundings.

Despite the many positives Greg has achieved, he is always aware of the stigma attached to people who use drugs, and the negative impact it may have on his job and general life.

Greg is at the point where he wants to try and overcome the addiction. “I’m about to turn 50. I’ve had enough,” he says. “It’s just not interesting anymore.”

When asked what his advice would be to someone in his situation, Greg said, “I don’t give advice.

Everyone’s different. Each person knows if they’re going down the wrong road for them. They’re not dumb, it’s right there in front of them.”

He pointed to his head and said, “It’s all up here. I can do this if I want to.”

Get in touch

For more information about the Uniting Medically Supervised Injecting Centre call us on (02) 9360 1191