Poverty, Addiction & Homelessness

Not everyone seeking substance abuse treatment in Florida is someone of means or capable of realistically considering such decisions and often times is not reflective of their experience with life. Substance use disorder, once it changes a person’s neurobiological functioning, can have devastating results on their life, particularly in the realm of income and class status, often times putting options like getting treatment from south Florida drug rehab centers completely out of reach. It also often creates a perpetual energy of negative outcomes, gaining more speed the further down the spiral they fall.

Consider a person who’s of modest means. They maybe have a car, are married, maybe have the proverbial 2.5 kids. Your typical picture-esque ‘average’ scenario. Imagine one of the parents in that family gets into a severe accident doing a daily activity. Maybe while teaching their son to play football, they end up fracturing the ankle. They can afford to drive themselves to the hospital and also afford the bill. The physician, under virtually no restrictions to prescribing painkillers, introduces them to oxycontin, a potentially addictive opioid.

Because they look down on people with addiction, they see themselves as impervious to developing a substance use disorder, not being careful to watch their use of the medication. Within 2 weeks, they’ve gone through a month’s supply, but their doctor realizes the fracture may have been more serious than originally thought, and happily refills their prescription. Over the next two weeks, they fly through their prescription again, but the pain of not only their ankle returns, but the pain of withdrawal from opioids begins to take over. They go doctor shopping, pouring in more money than their insurance covers on medication. Their ankle heals, but they continue to take the medication to keep the withdrawal symptoms at bay.

Months later, they’re now hiding the cause of their fatigue and mood swings, blaming stress-like outbursts on work, the kids, maybe their spouse for their emotions resulting in their situation. A fight maybe ensues. The spouse has no idea they’re still using the drugs, and the entire situation comes off to the user as if that ankle just won’t heal right, they don’t even realize they have an addiction. But their prescription gets cut off and they learn that opioids and opiates are nearly the same kind of drug and that heroin has the same pain relieving effects.

Moving onto heroin, much stronger in nature, they start missing work, eventually get fired. Their habit is now known to their spouse, who moved out, possibly filed for divorce. But the withdrawal is too much to handle, so they continue to spend their last bit of savings on drug use. No longer able to pay the mortgage, the house goes away, their car goes away, and they wonder how they ended up as the thing that happens to other people.

The links between addiction and poverty are often overlooked, but it’s not a farfetched scenario. Many people with severe addiction started with an ideal situation.

Substance use disorder can happen to anyone for any reason. If you or someone you know might be suffering from addiction, call First Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126 for treatment options.

Education, Not Scare Tactics

Many people today entering south Florida detox were brought up in the era of the War On Drugs, of D.A.R.E., of ‘Just Say No’. Broward County drug rehabs are filled with people, old and young, familiar with these scare tactics, where the threat of the drug use was over emphasized, making it seem as if a single puff of a joint would be the beginning and end of the story; they would be unsaveable or immediately end up with brain damage and in prison overnight, not to mention the morality play on someone who would even think of trying a substance.

This story, however, is unrealistic and, for young people, fuels that rebelliousness that many teens and young adults inherently feel as they grow into their own person and out of the shadow of the authority figures that told them things they discover aren’t entirely true through their personal experiences and aren’t as black and white as portrayed. With the illustration of how D.A.R.E. paints drug use, one would think that the worst drug in the world to ever try is cannabis, but when a young person tries it and nothing serious happens, it creates a contradiction of experience and education, which also fosters distrust of those they are supposed to hold in high regard for guidance, breaking important bonds of trust.

Think about if you were told that everyone who tries to swim the first time immediately drowns, but one day, when you see people at a swimming pool, you decide to try it as well because no one else seems to be drowning. If you started learning to swim with this kind of ‘education’, even if well intentioned, you would start to disbelieve that drowning is even possible. You’d start to think maybe everything authorities say might be questionable or, even worse, a deliberate lie constructed to keep you from exploring the world.

Instead, educating young people and re-educating adults on how drugs and substance use disorders develop and how it’s not an instantaneous event might be more productive. In the swimming scenario, instead of telling a young one that all swimming leads to drowning, we tell them not to swim alone so that if an accident occurs which may lead to drowning. Someone is there to help them out, and swimming itself is not the cause of drowning.

In relation to drug use, instead of telling them fairy tales about how cops will just know they’re high on something no matter what and they’ll be in trouble, the education of how drugs actually affect the mind and body over time, even if addiction and prison time aren’t involved, can affect them, and that those effects largely cannot be reversed, at least not easily. Not only will it build trust with authority, but they’ll have a better, well rounded view of how substance abuse is not just a scary fairy tale like a movie, but has long lasting, real life consequences that build up over time and that the dangers aren’t simply possession, but the effects of the substances themselves.

If you or someone you know has found themselves in the grips of substance use disorder, it’s imperative to find professional treatment. Substance abuse treatment in Florida offered by places like First Step Behavioral Health is available by calling (866) 319-6126.