Earl’s Place case manager, Jim Carey is our guest writer this month.
People love glory stories.
You know the stories of the “homeless” person who pulled themself up by the bootstraps. They got an education, a job, a car, bought a house, and lived happily ever after.
We all love those stories. Earl’s Place has those stories.
That looks like success. That screams success. Often, however, success is quieter, grittier, and measured in more subtle increments.
Recently, two men at Earl’s Place, J and M, relapsed. Though different, they share similar stories. They are men in their late fifties, both born and raised in Baltimore City. Both struggle with mental illness and addiction. They both suffered childhood trauma. Each had several incarcerations, psychiatric hospitalizations, and little family or community support.
While at Earl’s Place they connected with community resources and services. Mental health treatment, substance use aftercare, and primary care for chronic health conditions. Both struggled with medication management. They often missed doses or did not take their meds at all. Their recovery journeys, from addiction and mental illness, were not smooth. They were filled with starts, stops, and pauses.
M and J’s most recent success – they each survived a relapse. They lived another day and can continue to work toward positive outcomes. Overdose deaths are up 16% nationally. There is an influx of fentanyl in our communities.
To some, surviving a relapse may seem a strange kind of success.
The men and staff at Earl’s Place all know someone who has died from an overdose in the last few years. We can attest to the pain of those losses. You may know someone too. We celebrate those who have known the pain of addiction and the ultimate joy of sobriety, and grieve for those we lost.
Following their relapses, J and M each agreed to more intensive care. Both were referred for inpatient treatment. Community services are in place for them. Support is available to them. Although they are no longer living here; Earl’s Place is now a part of their support system. They have resources to continue fighting their battles.
Some voices we’ve known have been silenced by substance use. For many others, their journey is not over. Each time we hear M or J’s voice, it is with joy. That is the grittier sound of success. – Jim