Help Others, Just Not in My Neighborhood
Health care treatment—mental, physical and social—is more than just doctors’ offices and hospitals. Addiction treatment is no different. Many pieces make up the picture of addiction treatment: inpatient, residential, outpatient, sober living homes, 12-step meetings, individual therapists. There’s a combination that works, and it’s not the same one for every person.
Sober living homes are part of that equation in addiction treatment, much like group homes for teens and adults with developmental disabilities or mental health conditions. A place that is not institutional, a place with supervision, but a place in the community.
Now two types of extended care in the community are sharing the spotlight in Toronto, courtesy of Councilman Doug Ford. Last week the councilman criticized a group home in his ward, saying its residents (adults with autism) cause police or fire calls regularly and the home is dragging down property values in the neighborhood. This might be just another not-in-my-backyard discussion if the councilman’s brother were not Rob Ford, mayor of Toronto, currently in addiction treatment for alcohol abuse. Yes, Doug Ford was criticizing a group home while his brother gets the kind of treatment that usually finishes up in a group home.
Here’s the thing about group homes: They come in many shapes and sizes, providing shelter and supervision for all types of people who, for one reason or another, cannot or should not live in a traditional home setting. Group homes are for developmentally disabled people, those who need regular supervision; people with autism; people fleeing abusive situations. Group homes, when called sober living homes, halfway house or recovery homes, are a way station for those transitioning through alcohol or drug treatment. People, presumably, like the councilman’s brother and Toronto’s mayor.
Yes, some group homes can be problems, especially when they involve caring for people with every mental or physical problem imaginable in a non-hospital setting. For people leaving rehab, sober living homes are supposed to be a next safe step. In his recent memoir, comedian Rob Delaney talked about living in a halfway house, including the friends he made there who relapsed and died of overdoses. Yes, bad things can happen there. But they are part of the care spectrum, ideally when that spectrum involves mental and physical care for all residents.
For people who can pretend they have nothing to do with people in need, out of sight is out of mind. Real life is messy, especially when you have to see it happen. Some people struggle with addiction alone and in private. Others have well documented breakdowns, as the Ford brothers know.
Some people need help, a little or a lot. They need it for a lifetime or for a few months. That’s the system. It’s messy and uncomfortable, but so far seems to be the best way to help people have a safe place and the assistance they need. For some, it will be the next step on a path back to their own homes.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, Recovery Connection can help. Call us at 866-812-8231 and we can help you out.
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