Jeff Bourne says he gets irritated when people say drug addiction is a choice.

The recovering addict has dedicated himself to U-Turn, a drop-in centre in Carbonear that offers people an ear and an opportunity to rebuild their lives.

"When I was about six or seven years old I bought a pack of hard candy [that] had alcohol in them," Bourne said Tuesday, during a live discussion on addiction, hosted by CBC Newfoundland and Labrador.

"When that broke, it burned my throat, upset my stomach, tasted awful. But what did Jeff do? I put another one in my mouth, do you know why? Because from here to the top of my ears got right warm and fuzzy. And that's the feeling that I chased."

According to the last update from Eastern Health, 21 people have overdosed on drugs believed to contain the synthetic opioid, fentanyl. One person has died.

In the Carbonear area, Bourne said users are worried but also curious.

"They're worried, they're afraid, they're scared. But then again, on the other side, we have people coming in saying 'I'd like to try it' and push it to the limit. And that's the power of addiction."

Watch in the player above for the full special hosted by the CBC's Ariana Kelland, with guests Bourne, Dr. Bruce Hollett and Health Minister John Haggie.