One of the most common reasons people are homeless is because of substance abuse. This isn’t reason to shun them. Alcoholism and drug dependency are diseases, and diseases aren’t easy to overcome all by yourself. Especially not when every single aspect of life is a struggle, as can be the case when your homeless.
It was a struggle just to get out of my sleeping bag this morning, never mind pack up all of my stuff before going to bathroom and walking a few blocks through the cold, dark pre-dawn city.
And besides, from a purely selfish point of view, as a community we have a very vested interest in not having addicts roaming our public spaces and streets.
To that end, I thought it was important to ask some of the people I meet about their relationship with drugs.
This isn’t an easy topic to bring up with strangers. While the wealthy are probably just as prone to lie about substance abuse as are the homeless, I expected some of my potential sources this morning would try to spin me about it. One fellow told me social service agencies in both South Carolina and Rhode Island erroneously took his children away from he and his wife – different children, too! Two each in South Carolina and Rhode Island. Either he was lying, mistaken or extremely unlucky.
Zachary Borhem, a young man with dreadlocks and rotten teeth who grew up in Providence and now lives on the streets here, scores drugs outside of Corssroads, he said. He wasn’t willing to go on video, but he and his friend A.J., short for Apple Jacks, did let me record audio of our conversation about the drug culture on the streets.
Greg Boisselle was willing to talk to me on video about his struggles with alcohol and crack addiction.
Like so many homeless people, Boisselle doesn’t work and collects social security disability. In this clip, he explains what how he injured his head and how he plans to rehabilitate himself.