What happens under one’s roof affects families and communities for generations. And so it goes with drug and alcohol addiction left untreated. This is the horrific truth for the people who live with the ramifications of the U.S. opioid epidemic and the fallout from other types of drug use. And the destruction is far-reaching. Addiction recovery housing is a community problem because of the stigmas and lack of financial resources surrounding substance abuse treatment and recovery.
What may be a roadblock to dealing with the stigmas and receiving the funding needed to make a dent in the issue is denial and failing to accept that the problem in Baltimore, D.C. and Pennsylvania exists to the extent that it does. It’s rampant.
Holiday Season Serves as a Painful Reminder of Drug Dependency
There’s a myriad of reasons why the cold winter season shows a more brutal depiction of drug use in America. Blizzard conditions create the harshest of circumstances for those destitute and living on the street. For a heroin addict who needs to choose between paying for heat in a home or scoring the next fix, warmth will wait. For the alcoholic, the spiritual season and pending New Year adds fuel to the fire of overconsumption, exacerbating stress for family members and friends who know full well what the holiday will bring.
How many households across America will have to hold an intervention during the Christmas holiday? How many will have their holiday dinner ruined because of a family member out of control on alcohol? How many others will cry because their son or daughter, brother or sister, aren’t welcome at the table? How many more will never come home?
Even if your family hasn’t been touched by substance abuse and overdose, finding a family that has is probably just a stone’s throw away. But even at that distance, their dysfunction will touch your home, hard.
Your Neighbor’s Drug Use Affects Your Home
Privacy is coveted. But there’s a fine line between love thy neighbor and a hostile takeover due to drug use. While this might seem dramatic, there is a cycle of behavior that eventually rears its ugly head when active addiction is present in a neighborhood.
Depending on the drug of choice, the user will try to keep the codependency hidden. As the craving for the drug continues, caution is replaced with a fevered need that must be met at all costs. Friends from their former sober life will be overshadowed by other users and dealers who can provide the fix. They come to the neighborhood, your neighborhood, at odd times of the day and well into the night.
Responsibilities and household obligations are seemingly nonexistent. For homeowners or tenants who are heavily immersed in drug use, property maintenance is forgotten. Landscaping is left to its own devices, showing neglect. Job loss will convert to missed mortgage or rent payments. As the decay in livelihood continues, risky behaviors and even violent or suicidal tendencies will increase. Crimes against those in close proximity to the user, such as theft and assault, are plausible occurrences to a neighbor.
Unless you know what to look for in the signs of drug and alcohol addiction, the problem could be staring at you every time you leave your home and head down the driveway to work. It’s hard to acknowledge something that we refuse to see.
What It Takes for Community to Come Clean
Accountability comes from the inside out, including the home. If there is suspected drug use in the home, seek out help. Consider professional guidance in orchestrating an intervention. It might require a few.
With the rate of relapse after drug or alcohol addiction treatment, many people are beginning to learn first-hand what we’ve known all along – 28 days to recovery won’t do much to last a lifetime. While you may not have a neighbor with a drug problem, you could wind up living across the street from a sober living facility. And that’s a good thing.
What Meth Can Do to the Value of Home
The damage done from drugs to a neighborhood can creep up to the unsuspecting.
Imagine if you had a neighbor across the street that seemed to be a recluse. Random people would come to visit but no one you would consider worth striking up a conversation with. So when another neighbor who lives three doors down tells you there’s a meth house in the subdivision, you quickly assume it’s the one across the street.
Wrong. It’s the one that had the young couple living there. They were talking about having kids soon.
However, they didn’t have a drug problem. They were short-term tenants renting there. The people with the drug problem were the tenants who lived there two years earlier. But why did no one know? And how are they just finding out about it now?
The owners decided to sell the home. The would-be buyers decided to do a home inspection of the property to make sure they knew what they were buying. Because of the increase in methamphetamine use, many people are including an inspection for meth exposure as part of their due diligence.
A property doesn’t have to be cleaned and decontaminated just when meth is cooked in the home. Meth users who smoke it will leave traces of meth in the air ducts, carpet, and walls. The environmental hazards from meth use are much like second-hand cigarette smoke with far more serious consequences, including liver, kidney and respiratory illnesses. Unless a sample test for the substance is done, there are no visible signs that meth ever existed.
Other risks to residents in any given neighborhood include the ties to other drug users and dealers that remain once the addict leaves the home, overdoses or dies. Those who crave a drug will seek out others they know who use and may have access to the drug they want or know people who provide a hook up. Drug addiction is a lingering problem for communities.
We are all directly or indirectly touched by drug and alcohol addiction. Through ECHO (East Coast Housing Opportunities) nonprofit, we can invest our time and community resources by joining together to be part of the solution.
Echo Recovery December 2018 Fundraiser Is Just the Start
It really does take a village. Even with the additional federal funding for changes in the way opioids and other medications are prescribed, drug addiction remains an ongoing problem. For every addiction detox and rehab available, there are scores of people who engage in the process, only to leave early or complete the program and succumb to the triggers of relapse. While this may be part of the normal process of recovery, there is a disconnect that must be addressed and circumvented.
Because drug and alcohol addiction is a behavioral disease that affects the mind, body and spirit, recovery is a lengthy endeavor. As the body and brain heal and search for realignment and chemical balance, those in recovery need a supportive bridge that can take them from the routine of therapy sessions and holistic practices in treatment to the freedom of sobriety and living on their own. That bridge is found in sober living houses.
Unfortunately, Maryland and surrounding states don’t have enough sober living houses to fulfill the need—not even close; which is why ECHO is amidst a fundraising campaign, just in time for the holidays.
ECHO provides the outreach, educating, informing and guiding communities to work together and forge new alliances in the fight against substance addiction. One of their primary focal points is in networking to coordinate and partner with treatment facilities, housing resources, philanthropic entities and individuals that can, collectively, make a difference and provide residences for the aftercare phase of recovery, known as sober living.
We invite you, your family, neighbors and friends to participate in sharing the opportunity to help communities better support sobriety through awareness, sober houses and everyday resources.
Jennifer Nilsson of ECHO is hoping to reach this year’s fundraising goal of $25,000 in addition to receiving new clothing and household item donations.
ECHO 2018 Year-End Fundraiser
Buffalo Wild Wings
December 12, 2018
4:00 pm – 9:00 pm
(5 Bel Air S Pkwy
Bel Air, MD)
Experienced Chief Executive Addiction Recovery and Mental Health Professional
Business professional in the Addiction Recovery and Mental Health industry for the past 26 years. Caring, compassionate and strongly motivated to make a difference in the organizations I am affiliated with and welfare of the population we serve. Currently focused on advocating, educating and developing projects leveraging evidence based, real time technology to support individuals in recovery.