And the damage takes many forms. Some have hepatitis C from sharing needles. Others have emphysema from years of smoking. Some have injured themselves in accidents or fights. A few have AIDS.
Others, those who have spent a lot of time locked up, have poor social and communication skills. They still abide by the values of the big yard in a world that has left them behind. Some have tattoos on their faces that can impede them when they're seeking employment or in a social situation.
Without a lot of motivation many of these clients may never improve. The best we can hope for is that they stay with us long enough to learn to live without alcohol or drugs. If we can achieve that goal we feel we've accomplished something.
Once in a while we have a client come in who is on fire to change. They learn to take care of their health. They start eating better. They quit smoking. Some start working out. They know they can live better than they have been. And they're willing to make the effort to change.
They're the ones that make it worth while to come to work in the morning.