The more I get to know the people under the bridge, the more I see themes emerging. This blog is not so much about an event that happened as it is the theme of being trapped in addiction…
I sat on the sidewalk conversing with a couple on a clear Sunday morning before going To Urban Hope for church. A man asleep a few feet away woke up and sat up quickly from his thin mat as he vomited out his mouth and nose. The vomit ran down his face into his long beard. With no water available for washing, the stench will stay until soap and water can be found. Such is the situation when dope-sickness sets in.
Why would anyone put themselves through this agony? To the world beyond this bridge and beyond Kensington, it's easy to label people there as looser, lazy, trash, worthless, hooker or whore. Spend some time with them and your heart will get nicked and it will bleed for people named Mary, Bob, Sue, Ralph, Louise and so many more.
Keeping with these names, Mary and Bob went to the local hospital with the sole purpose of checking into detox. They met the needed criteria for admission in every way and yet there was a snag in the paperwork that the hospital staff didn't care to resolve. They were told to leave seven hours after arrival and they remain on the streets three weeks later. The tension of their life is destroying their relationship and they continue to inject heroin that could kill them while both WANT the help that they need.
Sue's approach to getting clean is to go to a methadone clinic. The process of bringing her to a therapeutic level of methadone is so slow that she continues to use heroin that could kill her.
Ralph would go to detox in a minute but he knows that to do so will land him in jail for the warrant that is out for him for an extremely minor drug offense a year ago. Legal issues take precedence in Pennsylvania over health issues. This means that Ralph runs the risk of detoxing (a medical process) in a jail cell rather than in a hospital where he can be properly monitored for his medical situation. The end result is that Ralph stays on the street and begs at street corners or breaks into houses and steals to support his addiction that could kill him. Rather than being able to get the help he needs for his medical situation as the top priority, he runs the risk of being arrested for burglary or shot by a home owner for breaking and entering.
Louise is in a similar situation as is Ralph. As a woman, she has an added option for raising funds for her addiction that could kill her, an addiction that she would gladly put behind her if the system currently in place would allow her to get into detox. She can rent out her body and run the risk of getting or spreading a sexually transmitted disease, further deterioration of her self-esteem, and arrest for prostitution. The latter, of course, will land her in a jail cell where she will detox without medical oversight.
Much of what you have just read was recently explained to me by a man who takes great pride in the MSW (Master of Social Work) degree that he earned from a local major university and bears much shame for his heroin addiction that prevents him from using his degree to professionally counsel the people who reside with him under that bridge.
I have asked several friends who have served in the realm of addiction recovery to review these blogs for factual accuracy. If they see some point that is not accurate, they will let me know so that I can make the needed correction. Factual accuracy is irrelevant in light of perceived reality. The perceived reality of Mary, Bob, Sue, Ralph, Louise and so many more is that the system in place to make detox and recovery possible is not what it needs to be to meet the factual reality of drug addiction in this 21st century.
What is the answer to solving this? That's beyond me right now. There are other people who know the possibilities for that answer far more than do I. My corner of this issues is to look at Mary, Bob, Sue, Ralph, Louise and so many more and tell them that I care about them because Jesus Loves them.
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