During the reporting of "Houston's Craziest," a Houston Press cover story from a few weeks back about a new Houston Police Department program that identified the 30 craziest people in Houston, we noticed a trend among the people on the list: Almost all of them used drugs. Not psychotropic drugs, but stuff like crack and heroin.
Chris Alas, a caseworker from the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County, estimated that 95 percent of the people on the list were users or had used in the past. The police department labeled 11 of them flat-out addicts.
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The drug use was a huge hurdle in treatment, because the two caseworkers assigned to the program had to convince each patient to enter rehab and stay sober before they could think about reaching bigger goals of the program: get the patients into stable living situations, get them into day programs or even find them jobs. It was a tough task, considering most of the patients had been kicked out of or refused to go to treatment programs their whole lives.
The Press didn't use much space in the article to tell this part of the story, but instead relied on a videographer from Hightower High School; the school won a MasterMind award last year for its broadcast academy.
Philip Nwachokor, the student that filmed the video, was with the Press for about a week of reporting trips for the story. One of the people we interviewed was Travis Bonser, a 30-year-old who learned to shoot heroin from his mother when he was 14, after his mom became too fat to tie her own arm or leave the house to pick up the dope from her dealer.
Nwachokor, along with his teachers at Hightower, edited the final version of the video.