Poverty, Addiction & Homelessness

Last Updated: Sep 20th 2019

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

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) 971-5531 for treatment options.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

Brittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is the Assistant Clinical Director at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.