A Day’s Work at the Genius Bar

On Sunday I had an appointment at the local “Genius Bar” to find out why my iPad is crashing. One of the Geniuses approached me and asked me what the trouble is with my iPad, and I explained the problem. He waved his hand over the screen, touching it here and there, and “voila,” he agreed that it had been crashing, something related to the Bluetooth keyboard. I mentioned that I now use the iPad for work as I travel quite a bit and don’t like lugging around a laptop. One thing led to another, and he asked me what I do for work. Pause. Elevator speech. I explained that right now I am working with treatment courts to provide them with technical assistance in adopting evidence based best practices for their program. He asked what I mean by “best practices.” I went on to say, as an example, in that day’s local paper, there was an announcement of a warehouse being converted into apartment-style residences in Schenectady for men who have experienced chronic homelessness, and that the article stated that no drugs or alcohol would be allowed in the residences. I explained that the article did not say whether or not residents would have to be sober to live there, and that there is mounting evidence that some people are more likely to be successful in adhering to treatment and their recovery if they receive “housing first” rather than require sobriety first.

My Genius said, “I disagree. People have to hit rock bottom before they are ready to be clean and sober. That is just enabling them.” I paused, waiting for more information from him (or hoping to avoid further discussion). He went on to say that he didn’t embrace his recovery until he hit rock bottom. I congratulated him on his recovery and that he had found the right approach. I also noted that his experiences may not be everyone’s, especially people with co-occurring mental health problems and trauma histories. I said that his perspective is common, especially in some corners of justice community, and that we work with programs to identify EBPs that will work with their participants rather than stick to “we’ve always done it this way” and being frustrated that the old ways don’t work. I gave him some more examples of other changes that courts have successfully adopted and mentioned the extensive network of expert consultants we have throughout the country who are critical to our work.

As our “Genius Bar” conversation wound down – it lasted for at least 15 minutes – he asked me the name of the place I work, and thanked us for the work that we do. Of course, I directed him to the website, noting that there is lots of information on what we do and on best practices for people who are justice-involved and experiencing mental illness, substance use, and trauma. And, my take away, aside from talking about the work we do, is that the Genius fixed my iPad.

Behavioral health, Recovery supports