Confronting Addiction In The Homeless
Homelessness can hit any of us at any time in our life. A wrong
choice or a bad start in life, unemployment, addiction are all routes into what
so often is a difficult time of life. Homeless people come from all walks of
life from trades people to caterers; from bank managers to managing directors.
Many people who fall victim to homelessness and/or are
vulnerable, of course have a great many skills, often circumstances and
tragedies from the past have hid these. This often leaves the person's self
esteem devalued. They may have been rejected by a society where we are always
trying to be better, faster, cheaper, and more efficient. A rapid microwave
society where if it does not work 'throw it away and buy a new one.' People that
do not fit into what is considered 'acceptable' or 'normal' can find themselves
discarded too. Sadly people today are so often dispensable as a younger 'more
efficient' person takes their place.
The Way is aimed at giving people a new start in life, restoring
them to effectiveness, recycling or rehabilitating them. In God's eyes none of
us are worthless we are all valued in His sight. God wants to regenerate each
one of us - Ezekiel Chap. 36 verses 25-27 and He began the process by sending
His Son Jesus. God wants us to be free from our baggage and addictions so that
we can serve Him; 2 Timothy Chap. 2 verse 21 "…a vessel for honour sanctified
and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work."
Establishing a relationship with the person is at the root of the Gospel. With
the woman at the well in John Chap. 4, Jesus spoke to her on her own territory.
He offered her something she wanted. We have something other people want. Like
the woman at the well sometimes these people don't even realise it is available.
The road to recovery, as we all know, is often a long slow
process. Recovery is not an event, it happens over a period of time. This may
even involve the person returning to their old way of life. For many people the
struggle with their addictive behaviour can be a continual battle. We all have
good days and bad days, then something happens and we lapse. As Christians we
are all aware of the daily struggle to keep pressing on with God, but we all
know that what ever happened yesterday, however close to God we were, today He
can seem like a million miles away.
Rehabilitation and restoration can take a variety of forms. It
can be undertaken in the community or for more complex problems, more intense
treatment in a residential setting. Rehabilitation, in whatever form, is part of
the strategy of the current Government. The rough sleepers unit has developed a
number of key principles, one of which is: "Help rough sleepers become active
members of the community - creating innovative and pragmatic approaches which
build self esteem, bring on the talents and help individuals to become ready for
work and occupation away from the streets."1
How many people might want to look at an alternative lifestyle?
If we have 200 people who we are having contact with we may feel that we should
have 200 people wanting to be rehabilitated. A lot of course depends on the
person, and where they are at themselves. Some people are unaware of the options
and it really does depend in some cases, on how we present it to them. Other
people of course may not be at that stage where they are ready to take on
change. They may still be at the pre-contemplative stage. They may require
further information or motivational conversation.2
1 'Coming in from the Cold' HMO stationery office/DETR
2 'The theory of the cycle of change' Prochaska & DiClementi