Sanctuaryhouse12's Blog

just a thought that came to mind.

With all the success that our facility continues to enjoy, we are reminded, from time-to-time, that it would not always be the case. Today, sadly, we lost a client….not to death, but rather to new psychotropic drugs “on the fly”, without titration and coupled with a sudden impulse to inject anabolic steroids. The result was “roid-rage” that made it impossible to do anything but watch, in sadness, as the client that we’ve worked so hard to help choose to begin this long state of hardship all over again, Walter, I wish you well and hope for the best.
J & J

Sanctuary House of S. Florida, Inc.

a safe place for gay men in recovery


Addiction recovery for gay men, the process, the hurdles, and achievements (continued)

I woke this morning, wondering if anyone will find something positive in the words that I write or the thoughts shared.  What do I say next, what’s important?

At that point, one of the most important chapters will include, in the book I’ve mulled over for more than a year, the issue of enabling the addict to prolong the agony for not only the using addict, but for those closest to the client, the family.

Mothers are taken hostage by their sons who claim to use suicide or harm to themselves if money or phone bills are not paid.  Some will go to extremes of outrageous behavior.  One such example would be the addict, calling from a local hospital, usually with his “using” partner to make a call to the unsuspecting parents requesting money, as they are told that their son is in the emergency room and in need of money for medications needed at discharge, claiming dire consequences if the demand is not met.

As a father of two boys, my heart understands the pull of … love for your child and grappling with the decision of what’s in my child’s best interest, usually ending in a Western Union money order being picked up; and the two addicts are off the drug dealer again, leaving mind that the cost of the deception reaches far beyond the money order to include the cost of the emergency room visit that inevitably will, again, cost the tax payer thousands, for nothing more than a con perpretrated by the addict.


As we work each day, Sanctuary House is reminded that outside influences can, at time, make the job of assisting clients in recovery difficult, if not impossible, if those doing the enabling are unwilling to display tough love or intervene, when it comes to the finances of the addict.

First and foremost would the Social Security Administration, responsible for “reloading the pistol” with funds distributed and allowing the active addict money, to be taken by drug dealers and usually, gone within days of receiving it.  At this point, the addict is left with little or no options in the areas of housing, feeding themselves and often committing crimes to “re-up” funds to last the usual 24 to 27 days before the next Social Security check, for the following month, arrives.

I have come to the conclusion that there are three types of actively using gay addicts.  In all three types of addicts, one thing is always in common.  Given enough time and money, the addict is no longer able to turn on that magical button that produces two necessary elements of real recovery, honesty and empathy for others.  In many cases, it does not matter whether the victim of the addict is a total stranger or a grandmother.

Many addicts, with a steady stream of funds, have no real incentive to make change, even when becoming involved in the legal system, usually aa a result of arrest.  Quickly, the family is there to produce bond, without thinking about the results of their actions.  Often, the result is right back to “people, places, and things” that caused the problem in the first place and continues to do so.

Even though I’ve done no investigation as the the amount of tax payer money being lost, due to this system in place with Social Security, I am reminded of a former clients, who’s SS check was in excess of $1,300.,   This client calls for an ambulance for a nonexistent emergency, simply because he did not wish to spend the $9.00 for a taxi.  When confronted by our office, the client simply shrugged it off as something he was entitled to, no matter the cost.  His reason for going?  He doubled up on narcotic medication and began the monthly search for new avenues of narcotics since the supply had been depleted, under the guise of a slip and fall, yet the client simply stood up from a chair on the porch and simply walked up and into the ambulance.  For the sake of animenity, we will call him “Stacy”.  Stacy would, upon SS payday, head for multiple pharmacies to purchase as many opiates as possible, often exhausting much of the funds, only to turn around and sell them at a profit, bringing the pain of addiction to those attempting to free themselves of the burden.

Another example would be a man in his twenties, after a 30-day rehab, usually from a family of some means, will convince the parents that continued after care in a sober living facility is necessary, only to have them pay for airline fares, the first month in the facility, and funds to sustain them; and will, from the first day of arrival, disappear to begin the month long vacation in South Florida, drinking, drugging, and refusing to answer calls from worried parents or the facility that had just checked them into the establishment 24 hours previous.

And the last group that I refer to as the endless victim, coming into the office claiming, upon initial arrival, everything from just being robbed to the loss of funds, where the addict cannot explain the disappearance.  Begging for help and fear of being homeless, only to use the admission to find “roommates” from the selection of clients at the facility, working on their own process.  This ALWAYS results in two or more clients, depending on each other to pay for the rented house, only to have, usually a senior from the group, paying the majority.  The senior is preyed upon, in the sober facility setting, being promised a wonderful life, with all the amenities that come from the new adventure.  Every situation that this office has witnessed, to date, has resulted in the senior being robbed of everything and left to fend for themselves and the roommates spending the collected funds in bathhouses, bars, or anywhere drugs may be obtained.

One example would be a man we will call “Michael”.  This was a client that had chosen to spend more than a decade playing the circuit boy routine in South Beach, Florida, cruising bars for drugs and victims, often couch surfing, looking for any opportunity to take from others.  Since I had no idea of this client’s history and the fact that he completed the first step, rehab, he was interviewed by our staff and given safe harbor, after driving the 40 mile round trip to assist the client in the transition from one county to another.  Literally, from day one, the client began attempting to build a coalition of clients to move, in secret, taking anyone that had the funds to place him in a new environment, where a new field of victims awaited.  When confronted about the situation, again the client felt perfectly within his right to do whatever it took to advance himself, even if the people involved in the scheme would be devistated by the enterprise.

That brings me to the next group of addicts, those that are firmly entrenched in the notion that they are entitled to all things needed for life, while returning to bars drinking, partying …. and I use the word “partying” loosely, to look for victims that are unsuspecting of the predator sitting on the bar stool right next to them.

The last of the group are the “get it at all costs” addicts.  With them, anything goes.  Prostitution, stealing, begging on street corners.  If it is one of the lucky one’s, those with a stream of monthly cash, if removed from the structure of a legitimate structured sober living facility, such as the non-profit house that Sanctuary House provides, the addict will simply check themselves into the nearest hospital, for housing, until the hospital discharges upon denial of any further care on the part of the insurance company or worse, from an agency that pays these bills, usually the tax payer.

If the client is discharged from the hospital prematurely, meaning before the new check arrives, they will simply find a new hospital, claiming a new illness and be admitted, effectively turning the hospital into a hotel with charges far beyond the cost of the most expensive public lodging, anywhere.  Days before payday, the addict will call and request housing from yet another sober facility, only to begin the cycle again.

Since I have more to share, in this story, please check back for more information.

Jared C. Cashner, CCR

Executive Director,

Sanctuary House of S. Florida, Inc.

a non-profit organization

Addiction recovery for gay men, the process, the hurdles, and achievements

Sanctuary House will begin its fourth year, as of December 28th, serving the gay community in the areas of housing, case management services, and advocacy in legal matters, involving drug charges and in many aspects of recovery, including new clients from treatment centers around the world.

My name is Jared Cashner, CCR, a retired court stenographer for the criminal courts in our circuit,  The original idea of creating a safe place for men in recovery was made obvious as I continued to see repeats of defendants making the rounds within my courtrooms.  Often, after being placed in housing in halfway house situations, with little or no accountability, the conditions often created an atmosphere of hostility and at times, violence.  In most court systems, when placed on a “pretrial housing situation”, simply coming into contact with law enforcement, usually after an attack in the housing environment, the defendant would simply be violated and placed “back to ground zero” in the criminal justice system.  The continuous fear and intimidation would also lead to the defendant absconding, also bringing the defendant back to the jail system.  In other words, the deck is mostly and usually stacked against the gay defendant.

My answer to a continuous problem developed as I entered the final stages of my own career. But before I begin the story of the journey into Sanctuary House’s history, perhaps a bit about my partner, James, and I and how this need to create and build what has now become a safe haven for our guys.

I was born one of MANY children from the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  As a young gay man, living in a place that could have devastating results, had my “secret” been revealed, as high school graduation commenced, I knew it was time to move on.  I found myself, ultimately, in the Great State of Georgia, 19 years old and on my own for the first time.  Within months of my arrival, I met a handsome man, named Sam, who would later turn out to be a 17 year love affair, before loosing him suddenly.  During those years, my interest in addiction and its effects on people was born as a Department of Human Resource professional, Miss Mary, placed my newborn foster son, Marc, in my arms.  As my son lay screaming and tormented by the pains of withdraw, it placed a feeling of need-for-change within me, to one day leave the sideline of this epidemic in order to work, first hand, in its field.  During those years, we went on to foster 13 additional children, those the State deemed “undesirable”.  I loved them all.  Within the first year, my son was officially mine and all the responsibilities that come with a couple adopting a “special needs child”.  I preferred to call him my miracle.

My partner, James and I met in the Fall of 2008.  He, like myself, had been touched close to home by the tragedy that is drug addiction.  As a young boy, the baby of two, he witnessed the despair of grieving parents informed that their older son, Buddy, was dead at the age of 15, as a result of drugs; and leaving James the only child of two people who I now call mom and dad, my in-laws.   In the beginning of this journey was a new and loving relationship, coupled with a desire, from day one, to start what would become a passion of learning, insight, and an ever-growing need to be hands-on.

So, now, the journey begins.

Sanctuary House began modestly enough with the lease option and eventual purchase of three run-down buildings on an acre, located in Wilton Manors, Florida.  When first opening, I had no idea what I was in for, nor had a clue of the increased work load dealing with gay men in recovery as opposed to any other segment of our community.  But then again, that was to be the model and for James and I, simply a “learn-as-you-go” process.

Upon opening, days after Christmas 2008, our humble beginnings were that of 6 beds, collection of mismatched furniture and an uncertainty of the endeavor.  Even though the property contained a total of seven apartments, the buildings had fallen into such disrepair, by a lack of care, that most had no windows, toilets, kitchens or the necessities of living. What the lack of care had not done, Hurricane Wilma had completed the picture, leaving a property that soon became infested with drug dealers, ladies of the evening,and squatters looking for shelter from the outdoors.

As we cannibalized  the apartments, going room to room, collecting items to put together two of the units quickly exhausted most materials needed to complete the next.  For the first time since childhood, working in garden with my mother, I found myself not in a suit and tie, as had been the case through most of my career and back into old jeans, laying water lines, pouring concrete, and shuffling through second-hand warehouses looking for bathroom sinks.

In the beginning, both James and I worked a second job, each, to pay the bills for our new home and have enough to begin the tumultuous task of taking on another unit, as the demand for our housing continued to increase, faster than the demand for our help.  Slowly, our bed capacity began to grow, as well as the work load.  Before long six beds turned into 40, with a never ending need for more.

From the onset, it was decided that if our facility was to make a real difference in the lives of those we serve, then certain obstacles had to be removed, such as emergency food, clothing, and transportation.  With those difficulties removed, the job of recovery could begin.

However, the biggest obstacle was not from our surroundings, but rather from within.  During the first year, what we would come to call “professional halfway house hoppers” began to call, requesting assistance.  Since we are the only one of our kind in the State of Florida, many seemed to gravitate to our program.

As we quickly discovered, those “hoppers” had made a career of moving from house to house, looking for individuals to victimize by taking from the weak and then, when confronted, would move on, showing up at local meeting houses claiming terrible housing conditions, bed bugs that did not exist, or that the staff of volunteers working to assist them were doing unspeakable things, including using drugs, simply for being expelled for attempting to pass drugs within the facility that still laid incomplete.  As a result of this deception, on the hopper’s part, some potential clients were weary of entering the Sanctuary, due to negative comments that simply were not true and the end result would be marginal client capacity, making that second job more important than ever.  Oddly enough, those same people, having exhausted all other options, would return very apologetic  and requesting re-admittance; and for us, being the new “kid” on the block during that first year, we would attempt, repeatedly, to break through the ice of these clients, after returning, usually without success. But with all the disadvantages, James and I were committed to assist the one’s that really needed the structure and guidance to leave behind a world of despair to break through the problems and move towards a life free of such a burden and rejoin the “land of the living”.

Since this blog is part and parcel to an upcoming book, aptly named “Halfway There”, please follow upcoming additions to our blog and I will continue to tell this story.  Some chapters will focus on problem solving and some of the more colorful characters that have passed over our threshold.

Jared Cashner, CCR

Executive Director

Sanctuary House of S. Florida, Inc.

a non-profit housing organization for gay men in recovery.

After four years of helping addicts in different stages of recovery I have ….
December 1, 2012, 11:28 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

found that the majority of clients at the Sanctuary House are as diverse as any group, even though our clients are men that have traveled from all parts of the country and beyond.  With that said, I have also noted and documented patterns of behavior that run deep with those that are long-time abusers of drugs and alcohol.  Since we’ve placed our clients first, we continue to see success stories.

Then, there is the slight minority of men that come to the facility, with an adgenda that would prove to lead back to the very problems that sets their attempts at zero, going forward.  At that point, as administrator, I must react to either help this person or remove him for the sake of the other 40 clients doing the right thing.

Within that minority, you find a few that find …. if they cannot have the comfort and benefit of living at the Sanctuary, then inaccurate statements about the facility begin to swirl within the few gay AA/NA meetings that are in our area.  Fortunately, my skin has become tough through the years, resulting in a place of peace that started with only six beds and two units to now, a 40-bed facility spanning in Wilton Manors, FL with 12 new units.  I guess hard work does pay off and I try to live by example by putting in a full days work.

Sanctuary House is excited to announce that as of November 1, 2012, we will be opening our first thrift store to add to this non-profit organization’s ability to expand our outreach, while continuing to work by sliding scale to help those who need a hand up, as opposed to a hand out.  With all of this conveyed, I am humbled by the outreach of so many, including our city and its police, that have made our organization feel so welcomed.