Skip to main content

The experience of addiction, cycling in and out of rehab, and just generally being homeless

Becky Blanton [pic from her website]
There is a wonderfully interesting article, posted to Salon yesterday, titled "When my car was the safest place to live," that explains addiction and rehab right, from my knowledge of and observation of many of the great guys I know that have (or had) addiction problems and have experienced rehab at the mission. [I, myself, don't have an addiction problem - I should report - so I don't know the experience firsthand.]

Here is the 'money' quote, for me, explaining the problem of being addicted and the cycling in and out of rehab:

Thousands of alcoholics and addicts walk away from jobs, family, fortunes and seemingly stable lives every day. It is the nature of addiction. It is the nature of being human. Most addicts walk away from rehab, for that matter, or go through several cycles of rehab before being clean and sober finally sticks. What people don't realize about Ted [a homeless man in the news, recently, who walked away from his rehab program on Monday] is that he's not failing. He's right on track. He's just caught in the cycle of addiction: He believes the only way to alleviate the pain he's feeling is to use the drug that hurts him. And make no mistake: Withdrawal brings pain. Once the fog of drugs and booze clears, Williams has to face what he's lost: the years, the life, the relationships tossed, squandered or destroyed.
AND, there is this, the author describing how she felt being in the homeless undercaste -- a feeling, now even though her life has been righted, she has not [and may never] fully escape.
… there is safety in being invisible. No one expects anything. You're living the life you believe you deserve. No matter how you ended up on the street, a part of you believes you deserve it somehow. Stay on the street long enough and your self-esteem bottoms out. You begin to say you want out, but the reality is that the demands of a job, a schedule, are daunting. As hard as life on the streets becomes, a part of you enjoys the simplicity. Days become a blur and you become numb. And being numb from the pain is almost as much of a high as being numb from the bottle or the needle.

For some bizarre reason the kinder a stranger is to you, the more pain you feel. There is shame in feeling unworthy and in not measuring up to others' expectations. It's an awful dynamic: The greater the support of others, the more panicked you become. The more someone says, "You rock!" the more you feel like a fraud. The chasm between their reality of who you are and your distorted self-perception becomes too great. So the pain returns in force and so does the need to stop the pain in whatever way possible.
This isn't quite how I would describe my own experience of being in the homeless undercaste, but it is in the ballpark, and I have to greatly credit writer Becky Blanton for her ability at conveying her experience.  You rock, Becky!  No, reallyTruly.

Here, Becky Blanton's cool blog:


JustSaying said…
Tom, Thank you for posting this. The comments I've received have been overwhelmingly positive - people identify with the pain and the hoops we all put ourselves through to avoid feeling that pain. Ted is just another person on a painful journey - only his pain is more public. I just hope people get that and continue to support his efforts and those of the people around them. We're all doing the best we can with what we have.

Popular posts from this blog

Homeless Sacramentans lose case that would have given them the right to set up outdoor camping

8/11/13 I certainly give attorneys Mark Merin and Cat Williams credit for pursuing a case against the city of Sacramento to give homeless Sacramentans the right to set up tents and a campsite. I wanted them to win their case, but they didn't. They lost it.

BUT, it is also necessary to look at the particulars of the case that Merin and Williams brought and see that the situation underlying the court case was not very compelling.

During the period eight years ago when 22 homeless campers set up their tents and brought in supplies to Mark Merin's vacant lot at C Street, near 12th, there was loud noise and plenty of other mayhem. Drug dealers were on the street encouraging buys from the campers. The Hernandez couple that lived in a house nearby were constantly being taunted by the campers, disrupting their lives.

Per always with Safe Ground camps, calm was deserted for the sake of boisterousness.

Leader John Kraintz and the other Safe Grounders would claim to have signed strict a…

The Mission Five Years Ago, And Today

I have spent the night the past two weeks plus at the Union Gospel Mission and am having an excellent time of it -- not only regards to sleeping in the dorm that the mission has, but also listening to the sermons that are delivered in the early evening. The Christmas music that is performed is also splendid. [And the food -- the FOOD -- has been fantastic during my stay so far! A happier Tom there couldn't be.] I chatted with a pal last night about The Mish – about how things were about five years ago when we both used the mission’s services frequently, and how thing are, today.
Five years ago, there were a lot scuffles between the guys when the front gate was opened in the early afternoon and in the area near the contact window there were some brawls as guys fought over where guys were in line to get a bed in the dorm.
Nowadays, however, the mission is very much a peaceful place both on the grounds of the facility and and out on the street.
I do not know what transformative eve…

Railway Road Shelter opens near Globe Light Rail Station

The 200-bed shelter at Railway Road and Del Paso Blvd opened last night -- Friday, the 8th -- with fifty homeless people spending the first night there. The shelter -- as yet unnamed -- was scheduled to open on December 8, but is not as yet ready to be populated by the maximum number of people and their pets that, when the shelter is completed and ready, are expected to be staying there. The shelter, for winter, will be open through March 31.

An article written by Cynthia Hubert in the Sunday, Dec. 10 edition of the Bee, is the source of this news.

One peculiarity that is perhaps trivial, but maybe not, is Hubert's unfortunate use of the word "trudge" in describing the, um, walking style of those who first made use of the shelter. "Trudge" is a derogatory word associated with Libby Hernandez, the three-wheel nun. It has been noticed by homeless people, themselves, that they "walk," as opposed to "trudge" when they move forward.

In addition t…