Human Services Spotlight Series #2

Overcoming Decades of Substance Abuse

A homeless man conquered a 46-year opioid addiction and rebuilt his life with help from Pinellas County Human Services and its community partners.

The Bayside Health Clinic referred a homeless, 62-year-old man to Operation PAR for medication-assisted treatment and counseling services. He told counselors that he had been using opioids for about 46 years, starting when he was 15. He primarily used oxycodone and hydromorphone, which he injected into his veins. He also had a history of legal troubles that included 96 lifetime arrests and prison sentence(s) served.

He signed up for outpatient services and consistently attended counseling sessions throughout treatment. Treatment focused on relapse prevention, life skills, budgeting and multidimensional wellness. He appeared to have relapsed throughout the course of treatment. However, he continued to attend treatment regularly and work on his recovery.

He began to rebuild his life so that it was enjoyable again and included fulfilling and rewarding activities. He sought support from recovery meetings for the first time in 10 years. During his recovery journey, his self-esteem and self-confidence began to improve. Clinically, we recognized that he began to care more about himself and engage in healthy self-care by seeing to his physical, health, dental, vision and hearing issues, as well as making dietary changes.

Funding for the program comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration for the Pinellas County Health Care for the Homeless Program. Human Services has partnered with Operation PAR and the Florida Department of Health to provide medication-assisted treatment services for homeless clients with substance use concerns including opioid and alcohol dependence.

According to the Pinellas County Opioid Task Force, more than one person dies every 48 hours from an opioid-related overdose. If you have any questions or need to help a friend or family member, please contact Operation PAR at 1 (888) 727-6398.

To learn more about Human Services programs visit Pinellas County Human Services.