Breaking the Cycle of Homelessness, Addiction and Mental Illness

She was homeless and addicted to drugs, then turned her life around so she could help others. 

“I have very strong feelings about this I’m really passionate about this.”

Jill Kahnert is a certified alcohol and drug counselor, who recently retired from Central City Concern in Portland.

“I’ve been watching people die from this for decades.”

And the reason she feels she can help others, is that she’s experienced it herself.  “I’m an addict in recovery.  I experienced homelessness out there.  The thing about the disease of addiction is that it manifests itself in a lot of ways that don’t have anything to do with substances.  But obviously I had to get the substances out of the way before I could deal with any of the other issues.  The first time I experienced homelessness, my husband and I lived in an abandoned house with our two year old.”

She knows her opinions can be controversial.  She believes that arrests and mandated treatment save lives: “I have time and time and time again, personally and professionally dealt with people who make the remark, the day that I was arrested I was so relieved, that somebody finally stopped me.  Or if I hadn’t gone to prison, I’d be dead.”

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