Over my life, people close to me have become addicted to drugs. I've had plenty of experience living with them and trying to help them. When I hear well-intentioned folks talk about treatment, I think about the scale of the problem from two ends.
First, what does it take to "treat" a drug addict? I have a close friend who was a homeless drug addict for a while and had another fellow build a house for me who was also a recovered homeless drug addict. Those two are the only ones I know who've escaped. Everyone else has died or is in the process of dying.
Treating an addict isn't like treating someone who has the flu. You don't give them bed rest and fluids for a few weeks while they detox and then they bounce back and live normal lives. It's a grueling, long-term, high-effort thing. Most of the time it fails and detox is followed by relapse.
How many addicts can a single social worker manage? That's one side of the scale problem.
The other side of the scale problem is the number of addicts. I don't have time to look up the stats, but let's just say that Los Angeles has 60,000 homeless. Let's assume they're all on drugs and another 60,000 are addicted, but not on the streets yet. In LA alone, you'll need to treat 120,000 addicts. Where are you going to find enough social workers to even start to tackle those numbers?
In 1917, the French launched the disastrous Nivelle Offensive against the German lines. The Germans were prepared for it and the result was a massacre. French casualties overwhelmed their field hospitals. That's where we are right now with drug addictions. That's where we are with the homeless in California, Seattle and New York.
|The difference is that some of these guys were healed after one visit. That's not the case with drug addicts. Each one will wear you out with a long string of relapses ending rarely in a cure, but mostly in death.|