Morelia, Michoacan – “The third time I almost died was because of a speedball. I’d made a lot of money on a sale and I blew it up in my veins: coke into this arm; heroin into the other,” said Oliver Cortes Sanchez, 21, slapping first his left forearm, then his right.
His skin is pinholed with scar tissue and seamed with pale track marks. “I was surprised to wake up. The friend I was with didn’t abandon me. I’m not sure I’d have done the same. I lived among wolves back then.”
Oliver makes unflinching eye contact when he talks, all cagey sincerity. His fellow residents at the CeVIDA recovery centre outside Morelia – the capital of Mexico’s troubled western state of Michoacan – were playing a lively game of football on a dirt pitch, but the noise didn’t distract him. He and the other eight builders are all young recovering addicts or ex-gang members, working to complete CeVIDA’s new rehab centre.