Harm Reduction Advocate, Advisor and Addiction Educator
Guy Felicella spent three decades in the grips of addiction and homelessness, surviving multiple life-threatening infections, several public health crises and six overdoses. Today Guy Felicella is a qualified expert who devotes his time and career to public speaking, advising the Province of BC on the opioid crisis, advocating to reduce the stigma of harm reduction and educating students on addiction. Guy Felicella has been featured in the media including, but not limited to, The Today Show on NBC, CTV Vancouver and two TEDx Talks. Guy attends secondary and post-secondary institutions to education students on the realities of addiction. In addition to that, Guy currently speaks at conferences, symposiums and workshops for different organizations as a harm reduction advocate, addiction specialist and inspirational speaker.
Harm reduction saves lives; without resources like safe consumption sites, I would not be alive today. Simply put, you can’t save a dead addict. 3 out of 4 people who will die today in BC due to drug overdose will be in a private residence, blue collar people with diverse careers. Who we initially picture to be the face of a substance user, the “homeless user,” isn’t correct.
One solution to the overdose crisis is offering opioids through a prescription-based program. Clients would receive medical evaluation staffed by health care workers to access safe opioids and be empowered to use safely, more safely than resorting to the contaminated drug market they have been forced to go to. It would also be an important first step into accessing other services like health care, detox and recovery.
Up until now, the conversation has been harm reduction OR recovery, both sides fighting for their funding and recognition of importance. I’m here to say, both are equal parts to the same pie. Without harm reduction, substance users are not staying alive to make it to treatment or recovery. Without recovery, substance users are not given an opportunity to live a life free from the chains of addiction. Both sides need to work together to be effective in changing people’s lives.
Surrey, British Columbia