Thursday, December 15, 2005

Vacancy At The Broken Arms Apartments

The Downtown Emergency Service Center opened a "wet" housing facility in Seattle Cascade neighborhood this week. The idea of the facility is to provide housing at limit cost to actively drinking chronic street alcoholics. The agency refers to the facility as “supportive housing”.

The agency intends to provide substance abuse counseling to the residents of the facility. But it would seem that if the counseling should be successful the end result would be that the individual demonstrating a desire to stop using would have to then leave the building because they would no longer qualify to live in the facility. The complete opposite practice of what most existing housing programs do that attempt to address the proplems of alcholics and drug users.

These chronic alcohol abusers will be able to drink in their rooms and even invite other in to drink with them if they so desire . I think they should probably have a bar in the lobby too.

Why not?

Residents of the neighborhood have opposed the facility mainly based on fear that the tenants of the facility will create a haven for toxic misbehavior. After a series of unsuccessful law suits the facility is finally opening.

As a former practicing alcoholic myself, now with 18 years of sobriety, I would of never stayed sober had I not been forced by the circumstances of my drinking to become willing to make the effort to stop and get help.

Alcoholics need to accept responsibility for their lives and also they have a duel responsibility to become useful members of society. Becoming someone who is bringing something to the table of life. Many successful recovering alcoholics believe that alcoholism is a disease of extreme self-centeredness at its core, drinking only being a symptom, and that recovery is not determined by what is going on on the outside of the person so much as what is going on in the inside the person.

I believe alcoholism is curable, or can be arrested so that one can begin to lead a useful and normal life, but the alcoholic must first see the hopelessness of their situation in order to be sufficiently motivated and willing to make a effort to become willing to stop drinking. They must realize that the road to recovery is a inward journey. Alcoholics often must be forced to make this self-diagnosis before real recovery will begin.

Enabling alcoholics seldom bring them to a state where they seek recovery. Ask anyone who has lived with one.

I would venture to predict that many of the alcoholics accepted into this program will remain a weight on social programs and criminal justice resources even though they now "live" in a nice studio apartment at government expense. The people behind the facility argue that one of the main reasons to support such a facility is that it will reduce the cost to the taxpayer that these chronic alcoholics now generating by their continuing bad behavior. i.e. trips to Harvorview or jail.

In this day of limited tax funds the government should be supporting alcoholics who want to get sober with a sober place to live. Not the other way around.

Something along the lines of the very successful private programs like the 'Oxford Houses" which already exist unnoticed in many of our neighborhoods. The major requirement is that a person must stay sober to qualify for this low cost private housing. Usually located in a residential setting. If someone uses they are immediately booted out of the house.

Many former drunks have recreated their lives with this type of structured and supported housing as part of their recovery path.

The "wet" housing experiment only rewards bad behavior.

It is certainly high-mined to want to provide a home for everyone, including the chronic alcoholic. But when it comes to the taxpayer's dollar I think that government needs to get its priorities straight. Especially in a time when funds are limited.