In the movie, From Homeless to Harvard, we meet the character Liz. She and her older sister live in New York Coty with their mother and father. The girls face incredible pain and trouble because of their parents. Liz’s mother is blind and schizophrenic. In addition, both of Liz’s parents are drug addicts who use IV drugs. Liz’s father admits in the film that he has contracted HIV/AIDS due to his shooting up. Liz’s mother on the other hand stays on her medication for schizophrenia but often breaks down and becomes out of control because the illegal drugs she is injecting interfere with her medications. In one scene the mother becomes violent and is removed to a mental facility by the police.
Liz faces not only the trauma of her parents’ drug use and mental illness, but she rarely attends school. He home is filthy as is she. She smells, has lice and never bathes. She is smart girl, she does well on a project that her teacher praises her for. The teacher addresses her truancy which is a serious issue. Liz’s sister goes to stay with her grandfather, who is a sexual predator. Liz ends up in a group home for a while but eventually takes to the streets. Liz manages to go back to high school and is a remarkably gifted student. She ultimately wins a scholarship to Harvard despite her upbringing.
Mental illness and drug dependency and abuse often comorbid (Degenhardt and Hall 2012). Patients who suffer various types of mental illness from depression and anxiety to schizophrenia wrongly feel that illegal drugs can calm their illness for a little while and bring them some relief. Unfortunately, the effect of the illegal drugs is short lived. Illegal drugs also interact badly with most medications that are prescribed by physicians. Liz’s parents were injecting their drugs which ended up with more complex issues for her father, the contraction of HIV/Aids. Hepatitis and other diseases are also high risk for IV drug users.
Degenhardt, L., & Hall, W. (2012). Extent of illicit drug use and dependence, and their
contribution to the global burden of disease. The Lancet, 379(9810), 55-70. DOI: