A problem thinking about the “homeless” is we lump them together as a single class —but they are three basically different populations with three different “fixes”: the mentally ill, the addicted by choice and the displaced. This will deal with one of those, but argue that solving it boosts resources available for the other two.
I do not know where this will “land” in the current political and ideological spectrum. This is an exploration of some costs and trade-offs and whether we are accepting things as they are so we can see the best way forward.
The addicted by choice are the most problematic to the “social contract.” They do not want help, they want money for drugs. They will got to extremes to get this money and criminal networks will go to extremes to provide them with drugs to spend it on. They will take advantage of any social services to secure food, clothing and shelter without work. They compete with the mentally ill and displaced for these services and for street corners soliciting handouts. We have not, in the long history of the drugs wars, been able to stop or reduce the supply of drugs, nor is there reason to think we will do so by spending more and more of our national debt to do so. We are also extremely unsuccessful in rehabilitating addiction, especially when rehabilitation is not yet a congruent intention (without internal or overt opposition within the person.)
Society should allow those addicted by choice to “drop out,” but we should also isolate them from society. We should provide them shelter, food, safety, drugs and an opportunity to sort things out if they want.
But admitted, they relinquish certain rights and they keep no possessions, weapons, money or technology (e.g. cell phones, computers, etc.) The facility is like an open prison. Anyone can check in, turn over their possessions, get a clean set of standard clothing, standard delousing if required and intake procedures.
They cannot check out if intoxicated, though. And they cannot bring any drugs with them off campus, or bring any in. Minors are not allowed. When they check in, they are there for a mandatory week. They can check out after that, while not intoxicated, but checking back in restarts the week counter.
There is no assigned space, but a space is theirs when they are occupying it. Provided is a simple cell with bedding for sleep or isolation. Active 1: They can also choose to lock their own cell for privacy, although they are still monitored. If they are being a danger or nuisance to others, they are locked in their cell until sober and then ejected with a wait time before they can be re-admitted. If it is a criminal assault, they are turned over to the police.
It’s not a resort, it’s minimal, monitored and humane, eliminates the need for crime to get what they want, keeps them off the streets and out of neighborhoods. Protects them from themselves, the elements and society at large. There are guards, routine checks, basic medical and dental services.
It would be a way to withdrawal from society, but it wouldn’t be a party scene, as there would be no entertainment, tv, music, no screens, no phones. No cannabis. There would be board games and outdoor space to exercise/walk, a library, pens and notebooks, healthy food at specific hours in a dining hall, standard “uniforms” and weekly laundry. Sundries like toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, contraceptives, water, tea, coffee provided. Sodas, snacks, junk food would not be available.
Drugs provided: Alcohol (Moonshine), Fentanyl, Meth, Ketamine and Psychedelics
The reason for Ketamine and Psychedelics is they have proven powerful remedies for depression and addiction. They can offer clarity and deeper insight into our psyche and behaviors. These would also be available either self-directed or with support and guidance.
- It would virtually eliminate the need and expenses of the “drug wars” and reallocate resources in a more humane way
- It could have a dramatic effect on the reduction of drug-related crimes (drug and alcohol are implicated in estimated 80% of all crimes), it would reduce drug gangs and trafficking as it is hard to compete or make a profit against free
- It would substantially reduce the number of homeless on the streets and those begging on the streets would not be begging for drugs or alcohol
- It would dramatically reduce the deaths and overdoses caused by tainted supplies, exposure and unassisted emergencies
- It may be less costly than how we are dealing with the problems of homelessness, drug addiction, crime, gangs and all things related to the current monetization of illegal supply and demand, incarcerations, trials, property costs, etc. (1 Trillion dollars and counting has been budgeted to the drug wars since 1971)
- The availability of psychedelics and ketamine may also help break addictions and alleviate depression. These sessions could be self-administered or facilitated based on their choice.
- It would make it easier to re-enter society while still providing a fallback
- It accepts the fact that there will always be a demand for drugs, there will always be addiction while minimizing the social costs of trying to regulate and punish both the supply and demand for these behaviors Legislative requirement is minimal as no existing drug laws would need to change, except for the designation of these areas as free-zones.
- There is nothing to exchange inside, no money, little need for image, everyone wears the same uniform, everything is being monitored with AI prediction for altercations or problems and video evidence. Privacy is one of the rights exchanged for security.
- It would make it easy and safe for anyone to try illicit drugs and would make it personal choice rather than a social mandate
- It would eliminate much of the social and public stigma of addiction
- It would make it easy for people to drop out of society and vegetate. It would make participation and contribution to society an individual choice rather than a mandate for survival
- It would require facilities, staff and equipment to setup and maintain, including the government sponsored manufacture or purchase of drugs, food and clothing although these costs may just be a reallocation of what’s being spent currently
- It would separate parents from children or younger siblings and family from the addict. This might also be a pro.
- It provides opportunity for people to freely experiment with these drugs and potentially become addicted by giving citizens the choice of what they do with/to their minds and bodies and removing penalties for this experimentation
- It may offer a lifestyle of dropping out of the “rat race”, giving up technology and doing drugs when one felt like it for the totally unmotivated (although, not having access to cannabis as part of the contract, might create a rebound in motivation during the stay)
- Cults may develop with the drugs as sacraments
- It may become an option for palliative end-of-life self-care for those not requiring life-support or ongoing medical assistance
- It may become a social “stage” some people go through
- It may delay or soften hard lessons that need to be learned and retard progress
- Some may use it as a technological refuge… away from media, social networks, books, writing and receiving physical letters, a way of stepping out of time for a reset or detox. These people could make donations for their stay if they wanted, but would be treated exactly the same. Left alone to mingle or refuge, their choice.
So, how costly are the implications of the Cons compared to the costs today and the solutions proposed? And the cumulative costs while we wait for the Overton Window to slide forward.