What if we combine supportive housing with low priced but high tech video counseling using computers connected to the internet for individuals leaving formal treatment to remain in close contact with their counselors and recovery support services?
Why does treatment fail? The answer is a complex one but the top three reasons on anybody’s list would be lack of affordable housing, a job and recovery support. The process of learning a new way of life takes time and for some people, the disease process extends over many years of recurring drug use leading to consequences which devastate families, communities and our city. Medical treatment and behavioral health care should not be a “hands-off” approach but rather integrated components of one’s long-term recovery plan.
Imagine how much longer someone could sustain their recovery in safe housing away from friends or family members who are still using drugs and with the added benefit of 24 hours a day, seven days a week help that would be a click of a mouse away. Addiction is a disease that demands self knowledge and commitment to change; and supportive services and people are needed to help when individuals begin to slip back into old ways of behaving.
Senator Mikulski recently announced that Maryland would be receiving more than $115 million in competitive stimulus funding to add more than 1,200 miles of high-speed Internet cable and bring new jobs to the state. This new technology along with Skype Video Conferencing can bring a supportive person to the aid of an individual with cravings who is fighting to maintain their motivation to stay abstinent. The technology provides the mechanism to give the addict access to recovery support services even at two in the morning when they are not able to reach their sponsor or their therapist at their counseling program.
Why can’t we reach and touch someone by using available technologies to provide the addict access to critical services whenever he or she needs them without ever having to leave the home. Balancing life’s challenges of finding a job, supportive housing and engaging back into the communities in which they live is critical. Breaking the costly and compulsive cycle of addiction takes serious measures and high tech supportive housing could be that stabilizing force so that we don’t have yet one more murder to count, incarceration or emergency room visit to count and pay for.