[Hpn] The nightmare of recovery

Jason Albertson blakjak@attglobal.net
Fri, 08 Jun 2001 18:50:19 -0700


A client of mine, someone whom I saw once weekly for individual therapy
bears this take on the war on drugs out.

He was in his 40's, a street-living african american who had been doing
and selling crack for 20 years or so, or at least as long as it had been
around. The street and the SRO's were his home, his comfort place and he
was good at selling crack. He'd had no convictions and had come to
treatment for his addiction when he was diagnosed with pneumocystis
pneumonia, secondary to AIDS. His immune system, probably infected for
ten years, had stopped working.

He got into treatment and was doing well. He hit his 90 day clean point,
the point at which the in-patient provider of recovery treatment stopped
and was scheduled to move into a co-op apartment. But nobody knew
when--it'd be within two weeks or so but wasn't a firm date.

I talked with him. He felt it would be better if he stayed at the
recovery center he was living at until there was a sober living place
for him to go. I wrote a letter and talked to the clinical supervisor at
the recovery house. They said they'd do what they could.

On schedule they released him to a shelter--one of the worst shelters in
SF in terms of easy drug availability with instructions to call every
day to see if his co-op unit was ready. Instead, he relapsed
(predictable), developed a second and more sever lung infection which
necessitated 13 days in the hospital and the removal of part of his lung
where the infection had destroyed it. He's waiting for a place in a
skilled nursing facility, where he can get IV antibiotics once a day for
a week, to make sure the infection doesn't re-occur. The letter I wrote
specified his medical, psychiatric and substance abuse fragility, and,
apparently, was ignored.

The outfit that provider him with the 90 days treatment got paid for it.
They should have to return that money and provide him with a treatment
slot again, and a safe place to go when he is finished with it. They
should have held him. The fact that they didn't, that they didn't
deviate from a plan which didn't take into account his specific
situation and circumstances, is indicative of a poor quality of care, a
quality of care which aint, which lacks standards.

And so it goes. Shavelson is right.

Jason Albertson