I’m Not at my Best – I Need Home for a Rest

You’ll have to excuse me
I’m not at my best
I’ve been gone for a month
I’ve been drunk since I left
These so called vacations
Will soon be my death
I’m so sick from the drink
I need home for a rest

There is a certain crowd who would have read the above lines and immediately recognized them as lyrics to one of the greatest Spirit of the West songs to party to.

It’s the sentiment of the song that I love – needing home for a rest after indulging beyond what might be considered a healthy consumption threshold.

As far as I’m concerned any person can choose to drink or not drink. That is their business, not mine. As I have argued previously, sobriety is not a precondition for housing success.

This doesn’t mean there won’t be some people that may choose to have sober living. I support that choice for people as well. I have many dear friends and professional colleagues that have found sobriety in their lives because it made sense to them.

It also doesn’t mean that drinking doesn’t come with consequences. It does. For some people, the consequences are quite severe. But I will not judge because of an addiction.

There remains no shortage of homeless programs out there where the consumption of alcohol or other drugs after a period of sobriety will result in immediate exit from the program – even eviction in most instances. Seems to me that people that are in housing (some types of supportive housing, rental assistance programs, and/or transitional housing programs) are being punished with homelessness for the return of using a substance they previously admitted to being powerless over.

Odd that service providers that support sobriety, many of whom have personally gone to great lengths to make amendments where it was appropriate to do so and would not cause harm to the other person, go on to harm others with homelessness.

Odd that service providers that support sobriety, many of who have personally had relapses in their own journey to sobriety so harshly react to others that also relapsed. Guess if you aren’t sober forever after rehab then you are a bad example to others trying to achieve sobriety. Rehab is for quitters – not re-joiners, I guess.

Odd that service providers that support sobriety, many of whom have personally achieved sobriety but have no other professional training consider themselves experts in addictions and worthy to make such assessments of others. I’ve had my appendix out. I can empathize with other people that may need to have their appendix out. That doesn’t mean you want me taking out your appendix. I’m also missing my gall bladder, broken a hip, and had a couple knee surgeries. Again I’m thinking you don’t want me performing surgery on you because while I have experienced those things, I’m not an expert in any of them. There’s a place for peer supports, but with the caveat that they perform functions related directly to their experience and are trained in how to do so.

Odd that service providers that support sobriety, most of whom enjoy the stability of housing themselves would be willing to take away one of the key factors that supports a reduction in substance use or even stopping altogether. Peer reviewed, published studies like this one and thisone and program research like this one have clearly shown homeless persons are more likely to decrease or stop using if they have a home, and it saves money when use of other services is decreased.

If I am so sick from the drink, I want home for a rest. Not others to judge me. Not others to make me homeless again. But maybe that’s because I am passionate about ending homelessness, and not pretending that homeless and housing programs are really substance use treatment programs.

About Iain De Jong

Iain is a playful nerd, hellbent on ending homelessness, increasing affordable housing, creating vibrant communities, and expanding the knowledge amongst leaders that influence social issues. Having held senior management and professional positions in government, non-profits, and the private sector, Iain has a wealth of experience and has garnered dozens of awards for his work across Canada and internationally. His work has taken him across Canada, the United States, and to Australia. In 2009, Iain joined OrgCode as its President & CEO, and in 2014 assumed full ownership of the firm. In addition to his work with OrgCode, Iain holds a part-time faculty position in the Graduate Urban Planning Programme at York University.


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