Filed under: Uncategorized
Looking back over the past year, Sanctuary House has continued to assist those ready for a clean way of life. I’m more convinced than ever that with the correct structure, all people, both the addict and the family that loves them can move beyond the despair of addiction and substitute it with the “highs” and lows of everyday life, without needing to reach back into the past for the poison that caused so much devastation; and to everyone touched by the plague of addiction and alcoholism. Sanctuary House, working closely with family members, can make a noteworthy differences, only if the addict is ready for the permanent change.
The one thing, I personally have noted, is that there are addicts that will make arrangements to enter our facility, knowing that after the parents, already spending thousands of dollars for drug rehabilitation, will use the opportunity to do nothing more than have the place to sleep, the airline ticket to South Florida or any vacation local’; and will disappear within days to continue the same destructive behavior, having the agenda in place well before arrival.
Disappearing for a number of days, doing the “my phone was off” or “my phone’s battery is dead”, never considering the relentless fear of a loving family that does not know the whereabouts of their child.
The clients are usually in the age range of 20 to 32 or 33 years of age. By experience, I have continued to see this behavior as a pattern; and it is only beyond this age range that it becomes impossible for the parents or grandparents to go further or have the ability to go through a considerable portion of their retirement or simply exhaust all means to assist further. This is the period where the young addict learns the art of lying and the extremes that will, for a while, continue to finance a potentially fatal part of the process, if left unchecked.
I have heard the stories of parents that have spent so much, for the sake of their child, that it can be a life altering experience for the loved one that worked their entire life or worse, is forced to return to the workplace in order to continue the enabling that the addict is comfortable with. This age range comes with an added difficulty.
For some reason, many in this age range will use the “I didn’t ask to be born” attitude to continue the parent or loved one paying, using many lies to keep the cash flowing. At this age, coupled with hardcore drugs, the addict begins to loose the ability to show empathy. This is temporary, only if the cycle of spend and use is, at least temporarily, interrupted.
This reminds me of a past client from Arkansas. We will call him Josh, Josh, arriving by bus, was financed by a mother of modest means. His history, as told by his mother, was that of a single parent while her son was growing up. Later in his teens, the introduction of drug use took an already strained family income to the brink of collapse. As she continued her story, her son was getting settled into is new unit on the main campus, here at the Sanctuary. Finding out that this parent, on three acres of land that had been left to her by her father, growing vegetables all through a labor intensive summer and run a roadside stand to sell the fresh produce grown and worked from the property that kept the family from doing without the most basic of needs.
Since I also come from the Common Wealth of Kentucky, I have seen this story firsthand and know its effects on those that can least afford the burden of a family member riddled with drugs.
These funds were to be used for items such as heating oil, groceries for her and Josh’s little sister, Emily. Within the first week, this parent, excited about the possibly of having the son she loved returning to some level of normalcy was conned into paying for her son’s second month with the lies of searching for employment and enrollment into one of our local community colleges. I personally took Josh to the Guidance Office of his school selection, all the while the clock is ticking. Feeling that this young man, who looked like a kid, for the most part, might have the chance to walk away happy. When Josh insists, to his mom, that the additional funds are needed, now that things are going great, talks her into a significant portion of funds strictly set aside for the most basic needs of the family. As a parent of two sons, myself, I felt her need to save, yet wonder how she would keep her own household running during the roughest part of an Arkansas winter. After discussion of his future in South Florida, in private, his mother relented; and relinquished the funds to keep her dream of a son on the right path alive and nurturing.
Since this age group is the more difficult to assist moving forward, I was excited, personally, to his assurance to his mom that employment was eminent; and that he would be assisting her with the much needed return of the funds later in the Fall and to insure the care and welfare of his sister and to assist with mom’s endless work to prepare for the year of a cold winter season ahead, after growing season ahead.
Within days of his second month, Mr. Josh simply disappeared. Frantic, his mother began the search through endless calls to hospitals, police, and anyone that would listen. Our office, as frantic, began the “driving the neighborhood”, asking questions and looking for a kid that would certainly stand out with his “goober” style of dress and small town aura that was obvious.. or so I thought. Three days had passed and no word of a nineteen year old, in a city known for its decedent side, where good sense is a commodity in short supply. At times, hourly calls from Arkansas to Florida, asking questions and looking for answers.
Now, you ask yourself, where is Josh? Here’s the answer.
Josh showed up on day eight, high on crystal meth and not understanding that the bragging of making money by prostitution was easy money was un-welcomed by all on campus that heard the bravado. In the end, there had never classes, school was never attended, no employment, but rather a self-centered child with no empathy for the position his parent is now left to endure.
I told this part of our struggle to show the incredible lengths some men, in this age range, will go to, to make their way to a tourist town, to fulfill a pre-set agenda that included drug use and anonymous sex. When Josh finally showed up, my first reaction was to call another parent to let her know that her son was alive and safe. Since I explained to Josh that he would not be allowed to sleep his intoxication off on our property, I offered him a ride to our local hospitalization rehab center. To my dismay, his demeanor went from that of Opey Taylor to a vulgar and out of control man, insisting he needed nothing from anyone. After his departure, within hours, there were pictures of him on social media, showing “bruises” and claiming being assaulted by members of our staff. Because, in his way of thinking, he had been wronged by being forced from the facility that would never allow the serenity of others to be interfered with; and revenge was in order.
The one thing I’ve always tried to reinforce in clients of our houses is simply this, if you do the right thing, incredible things happen. That includes a healthy portion of honesty, immersing yourself in one thing after arriving, you and your future that includes stone cold sobriety. Given the time away from drug use, the empathy can return. Left unchecked over years, the switch that brings back empathy simply turns off and is never seen again.
After the fact, our office learned what grinder.com was. Parents beware, this is an app that can be downloaded to any android phone or iproduct. It gives the user pinpointed location of other people looking for their respective style of anonymous sex, with drugs often involved. This app works in real time, making the addiction easy to pick back up, after arrival to any location that is chosen for the next phase of their recovery, the sober-living-house part of the recovery.
Parents, you have the right to look on the phones of your children. We are the parents. The idea that a fifteen year old has privacy rights is bunk. I never had a second thought of looking at anything that could have potential results of harm to my child, my charge that compels me to do the right thing and take charge, when necessary. This is a tool that gives the parent involved an opportunity to thwart a path, that once started, would lead to a life of survival, rather than a life of happiness and fulfillment. To both of my sons, I’m proud of you.
Sanctuary House will continue its work as a non-profit organization assisting gay men in a later stage of recovery, instituting structure over continued destructive behavior. The work continues.
Please visit our website if you would like to know more about the work we do or to help with your tax deductible donation that helps us help others.
Oh, where is Josh? I recently saw Josh in an area, by day, is a shopping area and at night, known for hustlers and those who prey on them. His face was drawn, without light in his glance, shirtless and lost. This does not have to happen. The cycle can and must be broken. This is part of our Mission Statement. I look forward to reading your responses. Thank you for the wonderful emails. The work continues. But disappointment in our efforts, at times, are overshadowed by the story of Matt, a success by all measures……but that’s another story.
Thanks for reading and keep the responses coming.
Jared C. Cashner, CCR
Sanctuary House of S. Florida, Inc
a non-proit organization dedicated to the recovery of the gay community.