J W Johnston • Photography


16 -18


Francisco smokes a cigarette on the street before entering his session at the Mission Council on Alcohol Abuse. Two weeks have passed since Francisco last took meth and he is still hearing voices. He has previously reluctantly completed two six month programs, one for crack cocaine which he successfully quit using, and one for alcohol which was not nearly as successful. This time he seems eager to get enrolled and get some medication that can help. Getting him enrolled is not easy. I accompany him to four different agencies where we spend from three to seven hours at each one. At each agency we have to fill out between five and twenty five pages of forms. It takes three weeks but we get Francisco started in a recovery program, get him medication to reduce the hallucinations, and have him in line for mental health counseling. It is hard to fathom how anyone with serious problems can make it through the social services maze to get help.


After several weeks of taking his pills morning and night his auditory hallucinations are beginning to fade. He was cautioned that in some people they never go away. He seems enthusiastic for the first time about trying to overcome his addiction problems. His acute psychosis resulting from meth use has had the side effect of also cutting down on his drinking. I am guardedly optimistic that he will be able to overcome his addiction to meth.  I am less optimistic that he will stay sober especially after the meth induced hallucinations disappear. I am still hopeful that one day Francisco will win his struggle with alcohol and drug addiction, and that our lives will be peaceful.