Tag Archives: heroin addiction

Pender man offers different take on HIV and drug use

August 8, 2017

I think a lot of people frown at the idea of having safe sites staffed with health care workers for people who want to inject heroin and other drugs.

The following story might help them change their minds on this:

Gulf Islands Driftwood — Penders Edition

Wednesday, August 23, 2000

Pender man offers different take on HIV and drug use

by Tanya Lester

Two weeks after his 19th birthday on July 31, 1981, Ernest Standing was diagnosed HIV positive.

Standing, who has lived on North Pender Island since January, had marked his entry into adulthood by injecting himself with heroin for the first time.

In those days, said Standing, discriminating medical system called HIV “gay-related infectious disease.”

The man who passed on the life-threatening condition was dead six weeks later. Before he died, he confessed to sharing needles with 120 people over a two-week period.

Standing said he is the only one of the 100-plus still living. Attending funerals has been part of his everyday life since.

He believes there are three steps to surviving HIV.

The first is to get real, he said. This means getting to the point where telling a lie is physically painful and why he said he will not lie about what he is doing to save himself and others.

He points out that the body is made up of the trinity — the physical, the spiritual and the psychological — and they all need to be in sync.

Secondly, Standing said, the person’s behavior pattern that led to getting HIV has to end. He quit using heroin with the help of marijuana. He also quit being angry with the man who passed HIV on to him. After about a year, he faced up to himself. “You’re a coward,” he said he told himself. “You’re the one who put the needle in your arm just like someone else has (had anal sex) without using protection.”

Personally taking responsibility for his actions has become important to his staying alive and well.

The key, though, is to monitor everything that goes into one’s body and to maintain its purity. Standing said he has created a healing environment for himself, which includes eating organically grown vegetables from his garden. The meat he eats is chemical-free from cattle raised by his uncle in southern Alberta where he grew up.

It also means sitting in his sweat lodge or steam bath for up to four hours each day to remove toxins from his body. This, along with meditation and doing energy work, through which he visualizes every cell fighting the disease, has maintained him.

Another part of his battle with the disease in ingesting a lot of marijuana each day in it purest organically-grown form. (Standing believes hydroponically grown marijuana is carcinogenic.) He believes, as well, that pharmaceutical drugs, including AZT, are toxic soups for HIV patients. He points out that AZT had been used for cancer patients but was banned in the 1980s. Pharmaceutical corporations have now found a new market for it among those with AIDS.

Each day Standing consumes copious amounts of marijuana and drinks a concoction called “bhang” which contains the plant’s basic ingredients. He said he does not feel “stoned” from it but feels balanced health-wise.

He also credits it with helping him beat his heroin addiction a number of years ago.

Some people would say he has traded one addiction for another, but Standing’s response is: “I can quit tomorrow. The only difference is I will be dead.”

In 1996, he did quit taking marijuana because his wife felt he was using his HIV infection as an excuse to smoke marijuana.

When his immune system responded by shutting right down, he said, both his doctor and wife advised him to resume cannabis use.

Being a strong proponent of marijuana use has brought a lot of attention to Standing. He expects to be back in court in December on charges related to operation of the Lamb’s Breath Café in Vancouver, where he sold marijuana for medicinal purposes.

He is also applying for an exemption from being charged with marijuana possession in the future. Recent legislation changes make it possible for an individual to apply to the federal Minister of Health for an exemption that will allow him or her to grow and use marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Standing wants the drug to come under the auspices of agricultural regulations as an herb. He does not want it legalized or decriminalized because he feels this will cost taxpayers a lot of money.

Neither does he advocate its use among children or teenagers because he knows it interferes with the learning process.

Standing said if his six-year-old daughter Britnny sees someone light up a marijuana cigarette, she thinks that individual is sick and will tell them to go to her father’s sweat lodge.

Brittny is the reason Standing granted a rare interview to the Driftwood, although other media had sought him out repeatedly over the Lamb’s Breath Café issue.

Since moving to North Pender, Standing has begun to think that rumours about him could hurt his daughter.

He stresses that Britnny is not responsible for her father contracting HIV because he made the mistake of using heroin as a young man. Standing said he intendes to live to be 120. This may be an exaggeration, but he is serious when he says he wants to go to the Supreme Court to prove the Canadian government could have implemented policies that would have prevented many deaths through AIDS.

Since contracting the disease, Standing said, his spiritual growth has intensified, making him a “religious person” in the truest sense of the word.

“HIV is my foxhole,” he said. “When we’re faced with mortality, we all turn to God.”


To read more posts from this eclectic blog of previously published stories by Tanya, go to writingsmall.wordpress.com and tealeaf56.wordpress.com

Tanya works as a psychic ( specializing in tea leaf reading, tarot, mediumship, psychic channeling, gypsy card reading) and is also a reiki master and a housesitter. To find out more go to her web at teareading.wordpress.com or her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google. You can also contact her directly by calling or texting 250-538-0086 or emailing her at 250-538-0086.

Tanya’s books are: Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writes.