Sanctuaryhouse12's Blog


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.

Enabling:

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

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