Spent today at the CCAT House making the daily phone calls to patients on the waiting list. “I’m really sorry sir, but we couldn’t get a bed for you today. We’ll call you again tomorrow and let you know. Now I just need to update your information.. is your drug of choice still crack cocaine? ..Ok. When was the last time you used? ..Got it….. Yes I hear you, we’re doing everything we can, we’ll get you in as soon as possible. For tonight, try not to use. Go to a meeting or two. Call someone….. I understand sir, but I can’t say because I don’t know how long it’s going to take. Anything can happen. As soon as a bed is available for you, we will let you know….. Yes, we’ll call you tomorrow, same time. Keep holding on. Try to stay strong.”
Easier said than done, I know. One man told me today that he was going to kill himself if I didn’t get him a bed now. I mean, fuck. God bless the people who do this everyday.
And I remember those calls years ago -except being on the other end of them. Every time that phone rang.. fingers crossed.. is today gonna be the day? Or will tomorrow be the last. Who knows. That’s what these folks and their loved ones live every fucking day. And the reality is they’ll likely be waiting for a really long time. Like months and months. We waited for-fucking-EVER to get Nate in there. Every day felt like 10 years. And we did that whole waiting process three times, over the course of a few years (You know, Nate wanted to be sure he got to play his “Relapse is part of recovery” card.. just for good measure.)
The only difference back then was that they were actually waiting for beds to empty. But today we’re just waiting for funding, like on a per bed basis. If enough money comes in for just one bed, it gets filled. The thing is, there are empty beds just sitting there, but no money to fill them. All these patients still sitting by their phones, waiting for fucking Godot. I mean, if you’ve got a shit ton of money, we can take you in tomorrow. Otherwise, keep dreaming.
I’m not sure about you, but I don’t know too many crackheads who’ve got six thousand bucks in their pocket -for more than three and a half minutes anyway.
So.. when I grow up I’m opening a free clinic (with no government funding, cause I don’t wanna follow their dumb rules so they can make me spend the money in all the wrong places) where there’s unlimited space, because the patients actually become contributing members of the rehab community. Rather than paying for treatment, they’ll be responsible for keeping the place running. They’ll grow and cook all their own food (with me, I’m in charge of the cooking classes :) and do all their own grounds work and general facility maintenance. Anything that needs to be built -a clay oven, greenhouse, shed, stone walkway, whatever- is built by the patients. Housing will be cheap cause we’ll all be living in tipis. No electricity, so bundle the fuck up, y’all. We’ll raise the rest of the funds we need to function by bringing in money from the local community with an amazing restaurant which also employs continuing care patients and alumni.
I’m not totally dreaming here, I’ve been thinking through this for a good 7-8 years now. I swear, it can work. All I need are the right people.