Addicts shouldn’t face choice of get sober and be turfed out or keep your home and be found dead in it – Darren McGarvey

Annette K. Brown

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You can’t ride two horses if you only have one backside.

Someone should explain that to the organisation which last week threatened a man in residential treatment for drug addiction with losing his home.

This choice – put to him by anonymous, unaccountable, pen-pushing desk-killers – proved not just impossible but also deadly.

Three days after discharging himself, the man (whose family requested not be named) perished in another preventable drug death.

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If this does not challenge the stubborn narrative that people with substance abuse disorders are solely to blame for their own tragic ends, I do not know what will.

Due to a fatal loophole in our ludicrous system of funding, many rehab beds are funded by housing benefit. This creates a nightmare scenario for extremely vulnerable, chronically sick people, who must make the most hellish choice imaginable – get sober and be turfed out on the streets or keep your home and be found dead in it.

While officials run for cover and the Scottish Government winds up the “Blame Westminster energiser bunnies”, another family grieves a senseless loss. A grief rendered more tragic and insufferable because of how close their loved one was to confronting and possibly overcoming his problem.

Anyone who even attempts to traverse the administrative triathlon of begging for funding, manoeuvring through bureaucratic hoops and surviving the Russian roulette of inconsistent services and support available for addiction problems deserves a bloody medal.

The few who manage to secure a rehab bed are absolutely, without a doubt, not only in dire need of it, but are guaranteed to be in the death grip of a most serious condition of mind and body when they arrive.

People don’t check into rehab for a wee holiday.

They check in to go through the mental and physical agony of withdrawal, in a medically supervised detox which, if attempted at home, could kill them or send them flying off the cliff edge of sanity.

Rehab is not some health spa where people bring you dinner while you regale the lounge with your war stories, it’s a baptism of fire most addicts and alcoholics cannot even summon the courage to attempt. Every person who steps into a rehab facility takes a leap of faith that will define their lives.

Summoning every remnant of inner strength at their command, they cross the threshold and into a terrifying unknown, comforted only by the solemn promise made to them on arrival – that should they stumble, others will lift them up and help them to their feet.

That is the only way this recovery stuff can work.

But this is Scotland, where community organisations and institutions, run like two-bit cash and carries, over-populated by the public service equivalents of used car salesman, will act not only to undermine your most earnest efforts to stay alive, but will line up to kick you in the back when you are face down the mud.

Soldiers, blindly following orders, flicking their kill switches, then chatting b****cks at the water coolers over lunch – while the bodies drop.

This is what happens in the absence of accountability. This is what happens when people who wouldn’t understand addiction if it injected them in the groin can make decisions, based on balancing books, which determine whether others live or die.

One day, I hope and pray, the people of Scotland will express even the faintest interest in a televised public inquiry about that.

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