One of my important observations working in the field of homelessness these past 10+ years is how much addictions (alcohol, drugs and other) and mental health affect homeless people. I have addressed this subject in my Homeless Reflections e-book. It is a matter of great sadness when I come across often nice people who with a helping hand can do so much better for themselves, but are held back and regress because of issues around addiction and mental health and sometimes a combination of the two. Often otherwise nice people become nightmares to deal with when these unresolved issues manifest themselves, which also become a barrier to finding solutions (too often the few spoil it for the many).
One of the items that alerted me in my customary listen to today’s BBC Radio 4 Today program (2hours 30mins in), while on the road, was an interview with Football legend and Arsenal and England star, Tony Adams. Part of the interview was about his recently published book: “Sober”. One bit of promotional blurb reads thus: “This Sunday Times bestselling follow-up to Addicted from English soccer legend Tony Adams is “a searingly honest account of the Arsenal legend’s quest to recover from alcoholism. Unflinchingly brave.” (Sunday Mirror). A charismatic figure on the soccer field, Tony Adams was a true leader for team Arsenal and England. He won league titles over three separate decades, and after the Gunners moved to their new stadium at the Emirates, it was fitting that a statue of him was placed outside to celebrate his extraordinary career. But, for much of that time, Adams was drinking heavily and ultimately revealed in his book Addicted that he suffered from alcoholism.” I’m not normally that interested in books by and/or about celebrities, but Adams as a footballer was someone I admired in his heyday, and as for his alcohol addiction, his overcoming of that addiction and the charity he has set up to help addicts and those suffering from mental health issues, notably from the world of sport, I see the book as a “must read”.
Besides fascinating insights (if I were a follower) into the current fortunes of Arsenal in this post Wenger era, Adams did much to broach what has long been a taboo subject that is now epidemically manifested, notably with gambling (not helped because of gambling sponsorship) being added to the list of addiction triggers, to that of alcohol and drugs. I don’t know enough about the charity that Adams has helped to set up and supports to comment other than he is addressing an important societal need and from what I can make out is providing an important service. As for homelessness, there is no obvious link to Adams and his work from the little I know. But in my dealings with the homeless and those who aren’t but could so easily become so, unaddressed addiction and/or mental health issues are important factors in people experiencing the downward spiral, sometimes leading to homelessness, and is why the work of Adams and others who work in that field is so important.