No Treatment Beds for Americans? –
JUNE 29, 2019 – Nearby, a mentally and physically ill woman who uses drugs was in tears. Her tent had collapsed. She lifted her shirt and showed me a feeding tube, still attached to her belly button after a recent hospitalization. Around her neck was a tracheostomy collar, and the outreach team I was traveling with said she had to have it cleaned out recently because it was filled with maggots. The team called to get her additional medical assistance Friday morning.
Across from City Hall, a pregnant heroin addict leaned against a wall near where a meth user gyrated and twisted, and the outreach team kept up its relentless daily mission to offer support, advice and hope — all aimed at getting the street population rehabbed and housed. They are overwhelmed.
This is the out-of-whack state of the city right now — cranes redrawing the skyline while the social fabric ruptures at our feet. Poverty, homelessness, mental illness and physical disease are all mixed up together, and addiction complicates efforts to help. Opiates can and do kill quickly, but the drug of choice the last few years has been methamphetamine, a more deliberate assassin that delivers a splendid immediate high while quietly attacking organs over time.