Have you seen Jacob Hensley? He is a tall, skinny white man with straggly long brown hair and beard, soft eyes, and missing teeth. You may have given him a dollar for a Street Sheet, the four-page publication of the Coalition on Homelessness. He’ll be 50 next month, and he looks every bit his age. When he gets a little extra money, he likes to buy silver and craft jewelry.

Jacob has been a regular panhandler in Durant off and on for about a year, but he’s looking and talking differently lately. “I’ve got the disease of addiction,” Hensley told me recently, “but I’m doing something about it.” He joined a drug treatment program to kick his heroin habit.

Sponsored by the University of Greenville and affiliated with the Veterans Administration, the program incorporates methadone maintenance, detox, group counseling, and classroom instruction.

“People don’t respect you when you’re hooked.” Hensley said. “They look at you different. I wanted to change, so when I heard about the University study, I signed up.”

According to Hensley, the program lasts six months, and clients are placed in either a high-intensity or low-intensity model. In the latter, the client gets his liquid methadone daily. In the former, the client must attend three group counseling sessions and two relapse and recovery classes per week. Both models maintain a chosen methadone dosage, and then reduce the dosage a gram a day until zero is reached. (Call them for more information.)

Jacob Hensley will reach zero grams on February 12 his 50th birthday. Happy birthday, Jacob!

Meanwhile, if you will that you need help and you can’t handle by your own, don’t suffer alone and join the group supported by qualified specialists. If you want to stay private, the anonymity is guaranteed.