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Florida’s Growing Homelessness Problem

By Allison Singer

According to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) you are considered homeless and are eligible for the SNAP/Food Stamp Program if you:
(1) have no fixed, regular place you sleep at night or
(2) the place you sleep at night is one of the following: a shelter, a half-way house, the home of someone else if you are there less than 90 days or a place where people do not usually sleep such as a doorway, a lobby, a bus station, a hallway, or a subway. (1)

So what exactly is a halfway house? Halfway Houses are transitional living places for those in recovery from drugs or alcohol. In some states, because of legal requirements, the term “sober living house” is used. Some people go to halfway houses from a treatment center, prison, or a homeless situation, while others go there to be in a sober and clean environment to begin the recovery process. Some residents are in halfway houses due to court orders. (2) It seems as if a lot of them have been popping up lately. An estimated 4,000 halfway houses are currently located in Florida. Although now that drug addiction and alcoholism are considered disabilities under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) I don’t see that number going down soon. If anything it will probably increase.

I interviewed 45 people for this article, all which preferred to remain anonymous. They either currently live in a halfway house, have lived in a halfway house or currently work in the addiction field.

All of the people I asked confirmed that they had gotten drug tested 1-5 times a week. They also said they were all required to go to AA meetings 5-7 times a week and that the clientele within the treatment centers, halfway houses and AA meetings was predominantly white. All of the people that were in halfway houses said they had come from a rehab, treatment center or detox and that it was strongly recommended to go to a halfway house. These halfway houses can bill up to $1,000 for each urine test. Some people call it liquid gold since the Drug Treatment Industry is valued at $35 billion a year. The price to live in a halfway house runs from $200-$800 a week. Everyone I spoke with had to make a “commitment” to stay at their prospective house. The minimum commitment was for six months. During their commitment they went to a 12-step meeting every day, predominantly Alcoholics Anonymous.

Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Incorporated is a corporation with over 2 million members worldwide in 181 countries. Over one million members are in the United States. (3) So does AA really work? Dr. Lance Dodes writes in his book The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs in the Rehab Industry: “There is a large body of evidence now looking at AA success rate, and the success rate of AA is between 5 and 10 percent. Many people don’t seem to know that because it’s not widely publicized. There are some studies that have claimed to show that AA is useful. These studies are riddled with scientific errors and they say no more than what we knew to begin with, which is that AA has probably the worst success rate in all of medicine.” (4)

Drug Addicts

I also saw an interesting film by Monica Richardson called The 13th Step, where she talks about how the people in AA have covered up multiple sexual assaults, rapes, murders and suicides. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Incorporated claims that every group is autonomous and therefor they are not responsible. They are responsible however in collecting money from these autonomous groups. AAWS Inc. had a recorded $27,181,001 in just in 2011 (5) alone. I have some resources at the end of the article if you are curious as to their current financial status.

It just all seems very cyclical. Go to detox, go to rehab, go to a halfway house, go to AA, and if that doesn’t work do it all over again. People who want to work with addicts seem to have good intentions, at least all of the ones I talked to. Although all of the data raises many questions. Is this business corrupt? Is it setting people up to fail? Are these addicts going through a revolving door so to speak since these companies want repeat customers? Are all of these halfway houses and rehabs a result of AA? Why are so many people becoming addicted? Dan Munro writes that, “the vast majority of addiction treatment is based either partially or entirely on the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, but is there scientific evidence to support AA as clinical treatment? Should addiction treatment centers make enormous profits by simply funneling substance abusers into AA?” (6)

So now that we know how and why these halfway houses, treatment centers and AA is profiting, why are so many people getting addicted now more than ever? To answer this question I would like to use a quote from Charlotte Kasl as to why she believes addiction has become so prevalent.

“Capitalism creates addiction because it rests on making people feel insecure, unlovable, and ashamed in order to have them purchase all kinds of things to make them—allegedly—attractive, lovable and powerful.” She also writes, “Psychic numbing is another term for denial, something most addicted people are familiar with. Your life can be falling apart and you still maintain drugs aren’t causing any problem. The same is true in our society when it comes to violence toward women and children. We hear political speeches condemning the taking of hostages in the Middle East, but I’m still waiting for the presidential speech that says, “We won’t stand for these bullies who rape our women and children. We won’t tolerate prejudice and assault on people of color. We won’t stand for women being held hostage by violent and abusing men.” Like addicted people, our leaders blind themselves to seeing what is in their own backyard. And the masses follow suit with mass psychic numbing, often using addictive substances to ensure the denial. As if in a trance addicted people set aside their alleged values and sometimes ruthlessly pursue their addiction. The military-industrial complex does the same, maintaining their addiction to control and violence. (7)”

It’s sad to see so many people suffering, and instead of helping them it’s gone to “How can I make a profit off of these people?”

Sources:

1 SNAP/Food Stamp Program Rights for People Experiencing Homelessness « Food Research & Action Center. (2016). Retrieved from http://frac.org/federal-foodnutrition-programs/snapfood-stamps/homeless-persons-rightsunder-the-snapsnapfood-stamp-program/
2 Welcome Home. (2016). Retrieved from http://halfwayhouse.com/
3 Service Material From The General Serice Office. (2016, January 1). Retrieved from
http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/smf-53_en.pdf
4 Dodes, L. M., & Dodes, Z. (2014.). The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-step Programs and the Rehab Industry
5 Munro, D. (2015, April 27). Inside the $35 Billion a Year Treatment Industry. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/danmunro/2015/04/27/inside-the-35-billion-addiction-treatmentindustry/#3e5e370067fd
6 Munro, D. (2015, April 27). Inside the $35 Billion a Year Treatment Industry. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/danmunro/2015/04/27/inside-the-35-billion-addiction-treatmentindustry/#3e5e370067fd
7 Kasl, C. S. (1992). Many Roads, One Journey: Moving Beyond the Twelve Steps. New York, NY: HarperPerennial.

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