DEENEY: Crack Is In The House


THE FIX: On this particular Monday morning the voice on the other end of the phone identified herself as a high-ranking official at the Philadelphia Housing Authority. Why was she calling me, I asked? I’m just a rank-and-file, trench-level social worker. She had a last-minute addition to my caseload: a four-year-old child belonging to a mentally ill, addicted mother, living in a public housing unit that had been converted to a crackhouse. It was my job to go find him. Now, 911, high risk, no time to waste. I’ve certainly heard crazier war stories from longtime vets in the profession; going into crackhouses after clients isn’t unheard of in the social work field. But doing so carries special considerations for me—I’m also a recovering drug addict, who used to buy drugs in the same neighborhood I was now speeding off to. I’ve been asked time and again: how can you do this work? How can you spend days on end—as I have over many years—working on corners where hand-to-hand drug buys are happening right under your nose? Don’t you ever get tempted, triggered? MORE

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