“Get a job you lazy bum! My taxes go to programs like welfare to take care of your lazy self! You are the reason America is all messed up, I hate you, people!” That was the standard rhetoric thrown my way while begging for change during my addiction.
However, once I came out of treatment while staying at the halfway house, I heard this same hyperbole. I realized there is a severe disconnect of information between the public and those within the circles of recovery. Let this piece shed educational light on the realities of coming out of inpatient treatment.
The beauty in all these recent protests of justice is that other oppressions are being brought to the surface. This country was founded on a white supremacy slant that has imposed its will for far too long. That supremacy has seeped into other institutions creating a culture of profit over people. The thinking has become a hierarchical boys club where marginalized people dare to challenge the status quo. They are to be thankful for the Snap benefits and any other programming they decide to give out. This climate of thinking has cultivated into a society of survival of the fittest. Instead of embracing, uplifting, and seeking change for the oppressed, they are judged without proper education on their circumstances. Shockingly those judgments are even passed onto people with a diagnosed illness by the top medical institution and experts in this country.
In your spare time, today, watch award speeches from any walk of life. Quickly you will notice how they take time to thank all the people that help them achieve said goal. No one is a success without help in this life.
In every Fortune 500 company, all the employees play a part in helping the company reach its goals. The janitor, CEO, and secretary all have important roles that keep the company moving forward. Emeril Lagasse, a known legendary chef that changed the way America views cooking, once said, “The most important person in my restaurant is the dishwasher! I cannot serve any great meals without a clean dish.” When a person is in their active addiction, their moral compass takes a back seat to the power of getting more substances. The frontal lobes become so corroded with substance abuse that irrational thinking becomes the norm. If you happen to walk past a homeless person begging for change, understand this was never the goal. Especially if that person suffers from mental illness and substance use disorder. Name an Obstetrician or Parent that discussed how the baby would be homeless in twenty years? That sounds just as ridiculous as someone believing a person with mental illness and substance abuse enjoys begging for change over a beautiful, uplifting career. Substance abuse is a consistent battle of the mind that takes a dramatic emotional and spiritual workload. If that person is fortunate to receive inpatient treatment, the system should not then expect greatness without proper help. The quality of that help should be in the form of housing, medication, therapy, food, and transportation. We are currently in the worst epidemic this country has ever seen, and drastic times call for drastic measures. Would it be considered drastic if it helped save your loved one?
Imagine being released from an inpatient treatment center after 30 days and then given 90 days maximum to create a new life? Imagine your loved one, did their part of getting sober and was ready to begin a new life with a positive attitude? Imagine they beat the statistical odds of surviving this epidemic and were eager to start a fulfilling career? Imagine knowing they must find housing, medication funding, therapy, food, and transportation in 90 days? Imagine knowing they emotionally, mentally, and spiritually changed their life, but the system does not constitute that good enough.
In all of my twenty inpatient stays, I have rarely met a person coming home to a 401k, mortgage/apartment, family medical leave pay, child care, food, and transportation all at their fingertips. My mother and fiancé were able to come home to that type of help, and both remained sober after their first attempt at sobriety. How many new people in sobriety without this help have been lost to a system refusing to share resources to programming designed to help them? Allow me to use my experience for an even more excellent example of this failed system. I was considered a star in my last treatment because I started a prayer group and became a community leader with integrity. I not only listened to the professionals in treatment, but I took it upon myself to set a higher standard. Once I transferred to the halfway house, I realized I was up against incredible odds. I remember vividly asking the upper management for transportation help getting to appointments and them referring me to my network in the meetings. They stated they did not have a fund for that, and that is why we are to gather numbers at meetings. I feel sorry for them because they are victims of a flawed system. The system is assuming that in these meetings, anyone and everyone will help someone build a new life. Unfortunately, they are not taking into account the racism, egos, and selfish behaviors that occur within those rooms. Every area of 12 step meetings is not equipped with the personnel to handle someone in need of these areas. I remained sober and gained employment within those 90 days while again becoming a leader in the house. After seven months of exceeding expectations and following all clinical guidelines, I still found myself destitute per survival in this country. My options were a recovery house or shelter. I chose the shelter because the expense of a recovery house exceed any reasonable budget that I could afford. I was incredibly blessed to find people outside of the 12 step fellowship through education and a new family that empowered me with the resources I desperately needed. I am forever grateful for their help, but what about those coming behind me not so fortunate?
The higher levels of education I climb in life, the more failed policy I discover.
My hope is that these protests bring about change in the areas of policy. There must be people in that room that come from these areas that lack the right resources. Often these rooms are filled with resume glory, hierarchical egos, and one-way thinking that has left marginalized people fighting amongst each other for resources. Being a professional with a heart is not weak but rather beneficial for a better nation. Epidemics are crushed through policy changes that divert resources in the correct places. Positions of power have been abused far too long without any substantial consequence. Profit over people has not only become a way of practice, but resume building trumps the health of the next generation. No one does anything alone. We all needed help to achieve any goal in life. America, wake up and support those coming out of treatment because they may have the intellect for the next invention or cure of diseases. Ask yourself, “Where would you be without the help you got?”