Can You Be Homeless in Rehab?
Getting Support for Recovery and Additional Services at Icarus
When you’re deep into addiction, you rarely know how to ask for help. As a homeless heroin addict, I had no good people in my life. I was on my way to dying of my addiction, and there wasn’t anybody there to give me any resources. It took a chance encounter with a former addict friend of mine that resulted in me seeking treatment at Icarus in New Mexico.
Substance abuse very often leads to a great personal downfall. In my case, I couldn’t hold down a job, and whatever money I did have went to drugs. Eventually, I ended up on the street. My drug and alcohol abuse was the only thing I wanted to put any effort into. I never thought that “Can you be homeless in rehab” was a resounding yes! But then again, I was not yet ready to reach out for help.
Anything that didn’t involve my substance use disorder got put off to the side. I felt sick every single night, and it didn’t help that I was sleeping on the concrete or in a tent on ‘special occasions.’ My goals and dreams were almost totally forgotten.
But I am here to tell you that this does not have to be your story. There is hope for anyone struggling with homelessness and addiction, particularly if you choose Icarus in New Mexico as a recovery option. If you are looking for a supportive and helpful atmosphere to turn your life around, keep reading to learn how Icarus can help you too.
Being A Homeless Addict and Losing Choices
When you are living on the street and grappling with substance abuse, every day is a struggle to survive. Substance abuse treatment seemed impossible for me. How was I going to get into recovery if I had no money or resources to do so?
Homeless people can’t think of much else other than just getting through the day. Homelessness is draining enough. Homelessness and addiction take it to a whole different level.
I had no idea that there were so many options out there for someone in my situation. Homelessness and addiction go hand in hand in many situations. Addiction is often one of the causes of homelessness, but a large segment of the homeless population also suffers from mental illness. To find out how you can conquer these two demons, read more to see how I accomplished it.
Facing Mental Illness and Substance Abuse Early On
I’ve suffered from mental illness for most of my life. As someone with bipolar disorder, my coping skills have never been great. I’ve always suffered from mood swings that have led to a lot of the problems that have persisted in my life. My substance abuse began when I was in middle school. I started with alcohol and marijuana like many young people, but by the time I was in high school, I was using opiates regularly.
My parents tried to get me help for my substance use disorder, but dealing with my mental health issues and drug addiction at the same time always seemed like too much to overcome. Drug abuse and mental illness require certain types of treatment programs that I was unaware of at the time.
There wasn’t a lot of information out there as far as helping addicts with mental health conditions, or so I firmly believed.
Battling a Growing Addiction With an Untreated Mental Illness
As an adult with untreated mental illness, my addiction made it impossible for me to adjust to regular life. From the time I was on my own at eighteen, I struggled mightily. My drug problems led me from couch surfing to homelessness in a pretty short amount of time.
For those who experience homelessness, there’s no way to properly prepare for it. When you have no housing options and you self-medicate, things will get worse before they get any better.
As my mental health declined, so did my physical health. By my mid-twenties, I was an absolute wreck. Substance abuse had ravaged my body and mind, and I didn’t have any desire to help myself. A chance encounter with someone from my past finally knocked something loose in me and made me begin to consider addiction treatment.
I was sick of being homeless and hopeless. I was sick of being at rock bottom and never seeing the light. It was time for a change and I had arrived at a turning point: did I want to live a different sort of life?
A Chance Encounter and a Glimmer of Hope
Running into a former addict from my past was a life-changing event. I didn’t even recognize this person. They looked happy and healthy. They had life in their eyes. At first, I was jealous, but after talking with them for a while, they gave me a lot of valuable information that made me think about substance abuse treatment for the first time in my life.
I learned from a guy who used to be like me, using puddle water to shoot up when it came down to it and not caring about much beyond the next fix or score. He helped me see that there are at least a few worthy resources out there for homeless people struggling with mental health conditions and/or substance abuse issues. Learning about some of the supportive services offered through rehab facilities gave me the hope that I needed.
On the old ‘welfare phone’ I barely managed to hang onto, I was able to look at the FindTreatment.gov resources from SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).
I learned that Icarus in New Mexico has a strong aftercare program that assists those in recovery with life skills and assistance in housing and employment.
Accepting Help and Attending Treatment at Last
With a little bit of help, I was able to get into Icarus and finally begin addressing my mental health issues and substance abuse. The initial detox was tough, but once I got through that, I was ready to tackle the things that were holding me back.
Even though I suffered from substance abuse for years, there was very little I knew about it. I learned a lot about substance use disorders and how they can greatly complicate your mental health.
I learned more about myself than I ever had while I was at Icarus. They offered treatment options that addressed my mental health problems and my addiction at the same time. This form of dual-diagnosis approach and treatment ended up helping me tremendously.
The only thing that scared me was what would happen after I left rehab. Where would I go? How do you maintain sobriety if you are back on the street?
Transitional Housing Services: A Place to Call My Own
When I got to Icarus, I assumed I would be right back on the street when I completed treatment. I figured that I would have to start from the very bottom. I would be homeless again trying to stay clean. How would I make this work? Luckily this wasn’t my fate. Icarus has a lot of options in place when it comes to aftercare, including referrals to housing services.
Transitional housing is a form of urban development that gives homeless addicts housing while developing life skills and helping them find gainful employment. You can’t just put someone back on the street and expect them to figure it out all on their own. Housing and urban development are a big part of the recovery process that people don’t think about.
By linking up with the Albuquerque Opportunity Center, I was able to get documents together with the help of my team at Icarus. Before I expected, I was placed in permanent supportive housing.
Can You be Homeless in Rehab: Using Social Services To Spur Recovery
As I made the transition from rehab to the real world, I was given all the tools to succeed. I was finally in the right mindset and had a more positive attitude. I wanted to find work and begin a new life. When you have that much support around you and so many people rooting for you, it becomes infectious. I didn’t want to let the people down that had helped me get to this point.
After finding gainful employment and holding down a job for some time, I made the transition from supportive housing to more permanent housing. I got an apartment and started paying all of my own bills. My family began to see the progress I was making, and they were willing to help me out as much as possible.
Embracing Recovery on a Daily Basis
Homelessness was in the rearview mirror for me. Even though it felt great, I struggled with guilt. As I continued to attend group therapy, I met a lot of people still struggling with homelessness and addiction. It was very tough for me to see that and then leave and have a roof over my head. Why me? I didn’t expect to deal with this kind of guilt over becoming clean. But I was told this isn’t an uncommon situation.
The great thing about group therapy is that it gives you the space to say whatever you want. I talked about this guilt and how it made me feel. The homeless people that I spoke to about this encouraged me. They let me know that I didn’t put them in the situation they were in.
I’m only responsible for my own life. I was able to make sobriety work for me, and that is a rare thing. They didn’t make me feel bad about being in a place they were trying to get to.
Paying It Forward
I was given a helping hand when I was at my lowest, and I am determined now to do the same for others. One of the big lessons you’ll learn in drug rehab at Icarus is paying it forward. If someone helps you, it’s important to return the favor.
Talking to people in group therapy made me feel good for a while, but I knew I needed to do something more. I began working with homeless youth and trying to help them find stable housing.
Sobriety can be challenging. It’s a struggle and there are days when you don’t think you’ve got it in you. Finding a sense of community is key to keeping it going. When I see others doing well in their recovery, it gives me the hope to keep going. When I see people struggling, I know that I have a great opportunity to help them and keep them on the right track.
Reach Out for Help in Getting a New Way of Life
As difficult as sobriety can be sometimes, it’s by far the most rewarding thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. This would not have been possible if it weren’t for the staff at Icarus. I am just one of many individuals who have been given a chance because of them.
If you or someone you love is unhoused and struggling but ready to get help, Icarus accepts many Medicaid policies and can help with recovery and the resources needed for success afterward. I am living proof.
Give them a call and get effective options to support a new life today!