It is no mystery that the use of addictive substances is daily among those experiencing homelessness. Whether people have begun using these substances while having a housing and a position, then faced a series of economic events that displaced them into being unhoused, or some have been displaced to being homeless directly from using these substances. One of the first Makeshift Travelers I met, Jason, on Day 6, shared that he began using heroin nine years ago after his daughter had passed away due to health complications. Jason started using heroin to cope with the mental pain of losing his daughter, and after nine years of using, becoming homeless was the only option. Another moving story, Marcellus, on Day 50, became addicted to opioids after sustaining an injury while serving in the United States Navy. These examples showcase how a working, attentive, average individual can quickly become addicted and gradually transition to being unhoused.
There are undoubtedly many addicted to these various who do not want help. However, the overwhelming majority communicate that they wish to be off and clean, but access to the recovery programs is challenging. After distributing nearly 150 Makeshift Travelers, the most common substance used is Fentanyl, with Meth, Cocaine, and Heroin being close seconds. Addressing those using these substances is no easy task and will require a combination of regulation and enforcement, as well as love and compassion.