I have always been in pretty good health, so I was surprised one day when my doctor told me my blood pressure was a bit high. She told me to begin watching my salt intake, start exercising, and to try to relax. Well, I intended to follow her advice when I left her office, but the next day I was back to my same habits. I kept using the salt shaker and didn't begin an exercise routine like I had planned. When I went for my next check-up, she told me that my blood pressure was even higher and approaching a dangerous level. I had to begin a blood pressure medication to manage it. I wanted to create a blog to share my story and remind people to listen to their doctors' advice. If a few lifestyle changes can improve your health, then you should make them.
If you are paying taxes in the United States, you should be concerned about how some of the money you pay functions to help those who are homeless and struggling with addiction. Many people living on the streets in urban America have trouble with alcohol and drug addictions; it is estimated that 38% of the homeless population in America is addicted to alcohol, while 26% is addicted to drugs. Many programs intended to help the homeless find housing, clothing, jobs, and adequate nutrition are dependent upon these people "cleaning up their act". Sobriety is often required before a homeless person can qualify for free or subsidized housing. However, there is mounting evidence that without a home, most addicts on the streets will not be able to find a path to sobriety, therefore continuing in their present condition without medical help or protection.
Homes for the homeless are more effective.
Many taxpayers in America balk at the idea of providing free quality housing to those with debilitating addictions, but it actually may be more cost effective that paying for homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and other safeguards that are currently in place. Furthermore, taxpayers cover the cost of emergency room visits due to illness or overdose caused by drugs, as well as the clean-up and criminal costs for drug-related crimes. Providing simple homes for these people ends up being less costly than keeping them on the street. In fact, one project that provided free housing for the homeless showed that it cost almost $2,500 less per person per month that housing the same people in traditional shelters.
If provided a home with no strings attached, people are given back a measure of normalcy and dignity. If provided with this basic need, they are given the first stepping stone needed for recovery-- stability. An addict needs a stable environment that will allow him or her to tackle the deep physical and emotional connections that come with substance abuse. In addition, in order to achieve sobriety, many people need to be away from the people and places that encourage the addiction. Street life is no friend to a recovering addict.
Does this really work?
Many people would argue that providing a home reduces the motivations provided for that person to change and improve. If given the reward first, why change? However, many homeless people who were given this chance have proven this argument to be false.
For example, a Vietnam veteran named John lived on the streets of Seattle and had been a dedicated alcoholic for nearly 25 years. When provided a home with no prohibitions, he continued to drink--for a little while. The stressors in his life decreased. The threat of cold and violence were no longer present. Two years after moving in, John saw a counselor and began a rehabilitation program with a place like Olalla Recovery Centers. He stopped drinking. He was able to pick up the pieces of his life and move on to an apartment where he actually needed to pay rent with a job-- a job that he could now keep.
Modern housing theorists now believe that the biggest obstacle in overcoming homelessness isn't addiction itself, or even mental handicaps; it is homelessness. Provided with a home, people can slowly dig their way out of debts, pursue education to help them get jobs, or in the case of addicts, begin to work on becoming sober.
Homeless addicts need this kind of help.
Another reason why a home should be the first priority for people addicted to drugs and alcohol is because they have less help than their other homeless counterparts. Most homeless shelters do not admit people who are drunk, known alcoholics, or anyone who is high on drugs. This is for the safety of the others who seek refuge there, but it provides little if any help for the people who need it most.
States, like Utah, who have transitioned to the policy of Housing First, have seen numbers of addicts and homelessness decrease dramatically. A home is needed for those people who are homeless and addicted if they are ever to be sober and functioning once again. Therefore, if you are looking for best way for your tax dollars to help those who are addicted and homeless, you should encourage the leaders of your states and cities should work together to make sure that housing comes first.Share
23 March 2015