In Drug and Alcohol Abuse and Homelessness Part I, we focused in on the beginning stage of the nasty cycle of homelessness, and painted and interesting picture, and as each day goes, the cycle becomes more vicious to both society and to the individual affected.
Lets take a moment to study a few things, first lets look at societies views on homelessness, and try to figure out why society as a whole has such a conflicting opinion on homelessness as a general rule. We will continue to use and study the Greater Los Angeles area as the model.
Depending on which references you wish to use, you will see that Los Angeles is either ranked number One or Two in the homeless population numbers, whether it may be the cost of living, or the easy access to impairing substances, no one person is sure, however this author feels that it is both.
People start using impairing substances to escape reality, they may take the drink at the bar to lose the inhibitions of dancing, talking or just being sociable, these are well known facts, after all, alcohol as a chemical is a depressant, it should be more commonly referred to as a sensitizers, but none the less the actions generated by use of alcohol is a very common and well understood and factual. Boredom, Anxiety, seeking a exhilarating highs, or looking for something that gives this person a "rush" or a vacation from reality is what using the impairing substance is all about.
How ANY person manages their impairing substance is where the age old debate comes in, is it nature or is it nurture! If its nature, that would mean that the impairing affects of the chemical ingested would result in successful or desired effects, and negative withdrawals or downs which subsequently follow with the disease aspects of substance abuse, would pose the question of, is it really a persons DNA or genes that predetermines his or her personality, behavior or physical attributes to change with the simple use of a chemical?
Or is it nurture?
If its nurture, this would stem from the upbringing of the person and the experiences of this person, or the bio-psycho-social issues, was mom and dad users, was mom or dad big drinkers, did dad drink, and mom pop pills trying to deal with depression because of dads drinking, or was it any combination of items not mentioned, was it the environment in the neighborhood, schools, peer groups during the formulation years of early adolescence to late teens?
So I ask again...Was it nature or nurture?
The only person who knows this lovely secret is the subject or new homeless person in this context, remember, this is a person that has a story, whom which at one point was a producing member of society and as of now is experiencing the devastating physical and mental effects of homelessness.
This person holds the key to understanding what the very root causes of addiction are, and is the basis of study in the formulation of addiction. I feel quite safe in saying that addiction is a purely mental issue. Face it, if the uneducated is in a room full of alcohol, the body just does not reach out and grab something, curiosity does, curiosity provokes the physical act of reaching out and taking, and where does curiosity come from, it starts in Reticular arousal system which is to be believed to have the most to do with alertness or intensity of attention, where is this at? Its in the brain, the brain sets the stage for the curious to experiment, NOT the pure voluntary physical being.
Society appears to have adopted some addictions as acceptable, lets look at your favorite coffee house, you know the one I am referring to, its right there on the corner as you drive from home to work, you see it every day, but oddly enough you don't see a lot of them on television in the form of commercials etc, but none the less you see them constantly around town. They supply you with the morning mud, that brings about the feeling of peace and awakening, sometimes literally. They aim to please you with customer service, and a warm friendly atmosphere and a great product.
What would happen if you stopped going to that or any other coffee store all together? Are they going to miss you as a company? Not a chance, is the staff going to miss you from a personal level? Possibly. But what about you! Are you going to have issues with irritability, are you going to "feel" out of sync with the day, off a step or two, so to speak! Try it and see what happens.
What we just examined above falls under the definition of addition, tolerant and dependent on something that is psychologically and or physically habit forming!
As one of my mentors Mr. Patrick Prince suggests..."if it does not impair we do not care!", in all fairness I like this statement, however even though the item may not impair, does the act of the coffee issue as presented above portray a potential gateway through to further addictive based behaviors?
What I am speaking of, its the type of behavior where it consumes your thoughts and your time until you have it. I intensely believe it does. The legal aspects of addictions explain itself with the statement that Mr. Patrick Prince vocalizes, "If it does not impair, we don't care". Drink and drive with coffee, its fine, drink and drive with cigarettes and coffee, the law doesn't care, why?..."if it does not impair, we don't care".
Society accepts certain addictions with open arms... is society situationally blind on these items? This author says no, however I feel that society is a "picker and chooser" of acceptable addictions. Society dictates that coffee is acceptable, while smoking is not, society feels that abusing prescription medication is a no no, but medical marijuana is all-right.
All four of the combinations listed above are all habit forming either psychologically or physically, and sometimes both, there is a positive and a negative side to them socially and legally. Lets face this one as well, being that marijuana is creeping its way up to state unification towards federal legalization, the ONLY reason that it has not been Federally and State accepted as of yet is because science has been unable to figure out what the impairing level vs non impairing level dose is yet.
Society reveals an ugly side when it comes to homelessness and perceived addiction, the immediate assumption is that the homeless person is homeless stemming from the abuse of alcohol or drugs, the person that is always at the bus stop with a shopping cart full of plastic recycles is "hooked" on something. The worst part of this assumption is that it is generally accurate. There are those that lost everything from abuse of impairing substances, but remember, they had something, prior to the impairing substance becoming a focal point, these people had a life!
HOWEVER, remembering and knowing that this person has a story that brought them to your view today, and, subsequently NOW knowing and understanding that this person was at one point a producer in the local economy, and a tax revenue generator, and may have had some "vices" as society likes to refer to closeted addiction, has developed a massive defense mechanism to the constant shuns and negativity by society, in the form of abusing impairing substances or escaping reality on a full time basis as long as the money is available at any and all costs to cover the expenses of the escaping tool.
This person is mentally at the highest risk of negative outcomes of homelessness. They are purely functioning on impairing substances and eating very little, there health is supremely at risk, and their mental condition is dissolving faster than ice cream in the Georgia summer.
This person is the power thinker that you may have known, this was the brother or sister of a friend that lost a close loved one recently, this is the principle bread winner in the family that lost everything and ran away because of a bad variable mortgage, this is a person with some serious mental issues that have manifested at this point in life in a reasonably short period of time, All of which stems from societies views and acceptance of what is right and what is wrong in terms of addictions. Remember, alcoholism was a socially acceptable addiction for a great deal of time in the not too distant past. Now, alcoholism is shunned heavily, proven by enhanced legislation, increased awareness via public service announcements etc.
Here is an all important question to think about in which I will answer from my professional bank of experiences which is merely a multiple view assimilation of subjects studied. What causes addictions to impairing substances and provokes mental decisions to be made to chase that all important "high", "rush", "escape" or mental vacation?
I firmly believe the answer is... simply to escape, even just momentarily or perhaps longer from the stresses and pains of reality, to try to gain or and attempt to regain some sort of composure in dealing with a problem, problems, or issues that has adversely affected the person, and I also strongly feel that using to excess allows for a rest period both physically and mentally, whether it may be passed out on the park bench, or nodding out and touching the innermost subconscious, its a break from reality in its entirety for a period certain.
Unfortunately this break from reality becomes so sought after, that all legitimate reasoning get tossed out the window. However its the methods of escaping that draws the criticism from society when escalating to the highest levels of negative or unacceptable addictions as defined by society. Society deems acceptable escaping as going to the psychologist, counselor or spiritual counselor, and talking about the issues, drinking or using substances in the privacy of the home etc, society deems negative escaping as serious addictions that cause crime and other issues as a direct result of escapist behaviors.
Lets tie it all together.
Homelessness is not an addiction, lets be clear on this, I have read research that suggests that a person that is consistently thinking about homelessness may have a hidden addiction or compulsion towards the fear of failure, and elements that create homelessness. I would have to definitely say, that would be the subconscious acting up and creating thought patterns eluding to the realization and projection of homelessness, this would definitely be an issue affecting the spiritual well being, There is a reason the subconscious is acting up, caused by the addiction itself in the form of self management techniques (self-control) the person has developed over the term of their life, they will not realize that its the spiritual aspects that are in desperate need of development and address..
Our society is so hard on failure and addiction, failure is not part of the "American Way", society views failure is the acceptance of loss, or lack of success. This could not possibly be more incorrect and, as such could not be further from the truth, failure should be looked at as another way not to use towards to the ultimate success, and further, that many failures are to be addressed and required for the great element of success is attained. Society looks at failure with a cancerous view, it avoids failure like the plague, or at least the image of failure, but what is the image of failure, is it the homeless? Society says so. This authors definition of failure is simple, the loss of life due to addiction, the loss of living because of fear, the loss of living or life because of human negligence or misunderstanding.
Barring the psychological issues, there is compelling research dancing around the metaphysical elements study of science, that suggests, any positive thinking is very powerful when it comes to realizing and attracting like.
Addiction works like a body builder. Bodybuilders work daily at the gym to tone, shape and develop a discipline equivalent to a Navy Seal, but a key item to remember is, a busting at the veins bodybuilder started off as an infant, as addiction does. Any addiction starts off as a small issue, in which given the space, ability and discipline to grow, will follow into an issue that depending on the item, will gateway into all sorts of problems and addiction based behavior, whether its missing the last 15 minutes of work to catch a show on television, or buying the pricey label of ice cream when its clearly not affordable, or the crack addict that has just completed the 15th theft of high dollar items to support their clearly non-socially accepted addiction.
I am of the full belief that addiction of any type whether it's minor, perhaps being the socially acceptable addiction, or major as in the substance areas or sexual areas, is a purely mental issue, having said that there is an element of physical addiction that must be considered when dabbling with items consumed, such as colas, foods or substances that are impairing or not.
Its the mental factor that we have to understand. The presence of the slightest physical withdrawal symptom from something as innocent as drinking diet cola, and abruptly stopping, leading to the subsequent headache that develops or the irritation that shows are pure examples of the physical attributes that are present with withdrawal, as you see, the innocence of diet soda or regular soda for that matter know no difference from the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol, oxycontin or heroin. It is just measured in severity of withdrawal and actual physical effects of withdrawal.
So having said all of this about addiction, would it not make sense to look from within to find a reasonable solution to an issue that we obviously know is not physical but mental? Absolutely YES!
The homeless subject that I have been referring to...lets go back and address this person from the time that I stated that the Department of Public Social Services had the first real interaction. As history has shown, all entrants that physically appear to be homeless that walk into the DPSS offices are highly likely to be homeless. If the first person of contact, or perhaps better stated, the person through the glass window focused on the person as an individual rather than the noise of long lines and disgruntled line waiters mustering to "get em in and get em out", would that not create the opportunity to visually assess, and listen to the person talking to that worker behind the glass, and get a good heads up reference to the next level worker that will have the opportunity to interview with more intent the person who is by all outward appearances homeless? Yes indeed.
This second level contact would then start asking questions designed to get the full truth of the person that is seeking assistance barring any attempts to protect their pride, or vanity. The second level worker must have the forward thinking ability to decide on the spot to assess this situation immediately, however DPSS and the sheer volume of people that it assists finds this to be a dangerous issue because of the time elements required to do this brief evaluation to every person.
The case workers need to have more time to not so much intimately involve themselves in the life of the person seeking benefits, they just simply need to develop an element of caring, and an element of assessing with out classifying any one person based on a series of questions and worksheets. No two people are ever the same! Most importantly they must not present themselves as judges to the entrants, which are already mentally weak at the point of entry into the Department of Social Services.
Accepting that our homeless subject was treated with respect, and was immediately identified by the first contact, or the second contact, their odds of successfully keeping this person permanently off the street has dramatically increased using the massive referral sources etc, thus breaking the cycle of homelessness! However just giving this subject what he or she wants without further direction will only cause multiple stumbles and ultimately major falls on the way to re-integration into society and will ultimately lead to serious chemical escapist behavior for the client, and other issues stemming from the "black sheep" mentality.
In the next article we will go over the next stages of homelessness, and will cover some of the beginning spiritual weapons that can be used to promote the homeless person as you see him or her to a level of thinking that "I" am better than what people see, that "I" was not placed here to be in this circumstance, and that no matter what, under the proper care and watchful eyes, of either those that have been through similar, exact or were trained by those that were have direct experience with this population we will begin to develop core understandings of what makes this person tick, what made this person master the art of escapist behavior in the first place, and ultimately address the issues that stand at the root of this persons addictions and homelessness.
Remember something, the next time you see the person on the road, or at the coffee place, or at the bus stop, take a moment and think about what you have read and will read over the next weeks about this population, offer to give this person a business card with an 800 number on it, that will provide them services to get off the street. It only takes a moment, and also, most of these people are so outwardly appearing negative, but inward they are soft and very vulnerable. Expect rejection, if it occurs, just place the card down and walk away, knowing that you helped to end the cycles of homelessness.
"RB" Wiseman is the Founder of the Policy Institute on Homelessness and Addiction Studies in Los Angeles California, he currently is completing his masters degree is Metaphysical Science with the emphasis on Metaphysical psychology.
Mr. Wiseman is a paramount force in the fields of homelessness and addictions study. RB currently works with rehabilitation centers and specialists developing new curriculum for overcoming addiction based behavior, as well as working with Drug and Alcohol educators in teaching positive and creative thinking, motivational self thinking, and action based momentum for the addict personality. RB is working on his first book, which deals with spiritual guidance, meditation and understanding specifically for the addictive personality.