The People You Hang Around and Addiction

Apr 29, 2019 | by Kristal Knudtson

Growing up, Mike lived a happy life.  Everyone worked in his house.  Everyone had a job to keep the stove burning and cutting wood for the fire.  Therefore, homelessness and addiction wouldn’t seem to be on the radar for him.  Although, when talking to Mike, he had a common theme, the people you hang around.

Mike moved to Appleton from Milwaukee over 10 years ago.  Mike claimed he moved into a neighborhood that was not good for him.  He states, “If you live in a bad neighborhood, you will have crimes.  So, you easily get involved with the wrong crowd.” He continues, “I know what park to go to if I want alcohol or drugs, and who to go to.”  He began getting too comfortable in this lifestyle.  Alcohol and drugs are expensive; it is hard to keep up on your responsibilities.  In Mike’s case, homelessness was the next option.

When talking to Mike about the addiction and homelessness, he said that it was bad.  “One time it was so bad for me, I walked into the police station and stayed there until the morning. It’s a cold place.  And, people use people.”  It got so bad that he used to drink every day. Mike says, “I would wake up sometimes with the shakes, and I would have another drink and everything would be fine.”  Until one day, he found a good friend who was also addicted to alcohol and drugs, dead from suicide.  “Her killing herself, that made me want to stop and never have a drink at all.” This would not be easy for him, because he lost many friends when he stopped drinking.

Trying to stay sober and being homeless is brutal. Mike was referred to The Project Home from a shelter he was at.  Mike walked in the front door of The Project home and told the employees, “The only thing stopping me from getting a place is paying the bills.”  He remembers when he was accepted into The Salvation Army – Fox Cities Housing at The Project Home, the only thing he had was a coat, pair of boots and one outfit.  He stayed at The Salvation Army shelter for 1 ½ years.

While at the shelter, he was given case management and life skill tools on how to raise his credit score, fill out important paperwork, how to save money, and how to keep a job. He was able to leave and has been at his own place, paying with his own money for almost 4 years.  He states, “The Salvation Army got me on the right path. It got me where I am focused and more confident.  I don’t drink anymore. I have my life together; I want to do some personal growing next.”  Mike continues to go to The Salvation Army for support from the staff.  “The program at The Salvation Army helps, which it is supposed to do.  You have a sincere, supportive staff that holds you to your goals.”

After almost 6 years of being sober, and 4 years of being in his own place, Mike kept some friends that he met from The Salvation Army Housing.  Friends he would consider the right crowd.

In his final words, Mike wants society to know this about addiction:

“Addiction is something you can’t control, it’s an urge.  Once the urge is on your back, it’s like having a monkey on your back. People look for comfort.  Some people find comfort in the bottle.  And those people, if they don’t drink they will die.  If they do drink, they will die.  They will go into coma or shakes and need to drink to bring them back.


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