Addiction and Housing

addixction housingAddiction and Housing
It is very obvious that many people who are homeless also have addictions. Note I said many, not most. This post is not about how many homeless people are addicts or to create stereotypes. This post is about the importance of providing affordable housing for those who are in recovery from addiction as one solution to reduce homelessness. Sadly one of the reasons for some individuals to be homeless and having an addiction is because after they went to treatment they had no place to live, went back out into the streets, and got right back into addiction. Is it their fault? Ultimately yes! Ultimately they can only blame themselves. No one forced them back into addiction. However, lets all be honest. Putting a person who has gone into a treatment program right back on the streets is foolishness. The money for treatment was wasted. Anyone going into a 14-30 day treatment program certainly is not recovered and is just starting out in recovery. They need support and structure, not be put back on the streets, or into a home situation that is not conducive to recovery.

The goal of a community should be to help every single person who has a desire to get free from addictions. One number one reason is because most individuals do not want to get free from addiction, or have no hope to get free, so do not take action to get free. Thus who want to be addiction free and take the steps to be addiction free are unique and should be helped any way possible.

People leaving rehab programs face a variety of challenges:

  • Many times friends and family will no longer support them. Also they have many times been dependent on family members for decades. The cycle must be broken.
  • Many times individuals going into treatment have come off the streets and have no resources at all other than EBT.
  • Anyone who has been addict for a long period of time, especially if they got into addiction at an early age, needs structure and accountability. Many addicts are emotionally and psychologically immature. Many if left on their own, will sabotage when left on their own. (Sadly many sabotage even within a supportive, structured environment.)

Success After Treatment
Individuals who go into recovery/sober living homes after treatment have a much greater potential to stay sober in the future. There is at least a 50% greater chance of them staying sober. Just one of the reasons is the potential of going back on the street if they relapse. Another reason is because if they work a solid program they are able to be surrounded by others who are staying sober, instead of going into an environment of addiction, or a co-dependent/enabling environment. In good recovery homes, they are challenged to get to the root of their addictions and to work on character flaws and poor personality traits. They are able to work on the whole person: physical, emotional, mental, relational, and spiritual aspects of their life.

Spending Tax Payer Dollars in a More Fruitful Manner
Sadly it appears that many times the government and certain agencies are throwing money at projects to relieve guilt, to make good appearances, to look like they are doing something, to appease special interests, or ???? Why do I say this? Because many times money is spent for projects/causes that have been proven to have very little success, that never get to the root problems of addiction and homelessness, that ultimately become money consuming bottomless pits.

Too much money, time, and energy is spent on individuals who have no desire to change. Individuals who have  no gratitude, that just take, take, take. Less money should be spent on unsuccessful projects and instead spent on individuals who have shown they have a desire to change their lives. Or at least headed in that direction. Does everyone who goes into addiction treatment stay sober? Absolutely not! In fact, most don’t. But that should not stop us from doing all we kind to help individuals to be successful. Funds going towards helping those in treatment to get into sober housing is funds better spent, than focusing on making life easy (enabling) addicts and others who refuse to take advantage of the help offered to them. Once again,  recovery housing does help to break the cycle of relapse.

Mandatory Housing for Some Individuals
There are times housing should be mandatory for individuals who receive tax-payer support addiction treatment. At one time there was a detox treatment facility that would not take individuals unless they had referrals, agreed to go into a 30-day treatment program, and had housing lined up. Guess what? Individuals who went into their treatment program had greater long term success.

Over the years I have known personally of individuals who went to detox and 30-day treatment programs funded by tax-payer money. They had no intention of staying sober. They told me their intentions as they were going into detox. They only went to lessen their addiction (because the cost to use was unmanageable). That is not all bad, but most of them went right back to high drug usage. Others went because if they did not go to treatment they would lose their cheap housing. They were just ‘playing the system’.

When I was doing street ministry there was one group of homeless individuals that would disappear for 30 days. I did not know it but they would go to a treatment facility for 30 days. The reason I did not know is because went I would see them in 30 days they were just as drunk as they were 30 days prior. Total waste of funds.

Less money should be spent on treatment for those who are not serious and more funds transferred to help cover sober housing costs. The cost for sober housing is multitudes cheaper than treatment costs.

One solution to the homeless problem is to spend more funds on providing sober housing for those who are serious about becoming addiction free and less funds on ineffective programs that only enable people to be irresponsible and a burden to society. Help those who want help. Provide the minimum to those who do not want help.

In our next post we will talk about what makes up a good sober house.


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