The Connection Between Drug Abuse & Homelessness
Homelessness and drug addiction often coexist. Sometimes, the end result of homelessness is substance abuse and sometimes, substance abuse leads to homelessness. Regardless of what issue occurs first, there is often a connection between homelessness and drug abuse.
Consider the following statistics about addiction and homelessness:
- According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration , 38% of homeless people are alcohol dependent. 26% of people without a home are dependent on other addictive drugs.
- A survey conducted by the United States Conference of Mayors asked 25 cities to share the top reasons for homelessness in their region. 68% of mayors reported that substance abuse was the number one reason for homelessness among single adults. Substance abuse was also reported as one of the top three causes of family homelessness in 12% of the cities surveyed.
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that more than 50% of individuals living in supportive housing programs had either a substance use disorder, a psychiatric disorder, or both.
- In 2019, California was the highest-ranking state for homelessness with more than 150,000 homeless people in the state.
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What Is Homelessness Assistance And Whats It Like In The Us
Dedicated assistance for the homeless still needs improvement, but, even so, it continues to play a significant role in helping people stay safe and off the street.
37. 70% of homeless people can receive temporary beds.
The support is available from Emergency Shelters, Transitional Housing, and Safe Haven, ensuring that 7 out of 10 homeless individuals can get a bed to sleep in a given night.
38. One promising statistic on homelessness states that permanent housing intervention has grown by 450%.
Permanent housing interventions have experienced a 450% growth over the past 5 years, providing rapid and effective support to families and individuals in need. By keeping them sheltered and off the street, the assistance can dramatically decrease the risk of homelessness.
39. Over 65% of the homeless population in America is in homeless shelters.
Homeless shelter stats show that, on any given day, shelters can welcome 65% of the entire population of homeless people, ensuring they can have a safe and warm place to stay at night. More often than not, shelters also help them find public housing.
Substance Abuse And Homelessness
It is believed that about 38% of homeless people abuse alcohol while 26% regularly use other drugs. These statistics show that substance abuse among this group is significantly higher than the general population. This has led some people to conclude that it is use of alcohol and drugs that is most important contributing factor to this situation. It is unlikely that the situation is as clear cut as this it may be that many of these individuals turn to addictive substances as a means to cope with homelessness. These people will often be dealing with a high degree of stress, and some will have mental health problems, so it is understandable that many will be tempted to turn substance abuse as a form of self medication.
While there may be many individuals who turned to substance abuse as a means to cope with homelessness, there are undoubtedly many who ended up in this situation because of such abuse. Abusing alcohol and drugs can be highly detrimental to the life of the individual. It can rob them of everything including their job, family, possessions, and friends. Addiction always involves a downward trajectory that can easily lead to homelessness.
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What Are The Barriers To Treatment
Barriers to treatment among the homeless include:6, 36
- Lack of health insurance or financial resources.
- The social stigma of seeking help for mental illness or addiction.
- Inadequate transportation to get to a treatment center.
- Lack of awareness of resources for homeless people.
- Social isolation and distrust of authority.
When homeless people do receive mental health or substance use disorder treatment, they may have difficulty following through with a therapeutic program or complying with a medication regimen. In general, drug treatment patients with dual diagnosis 2 have poorer attendance and higher dropout rates than others.30
In a population whose members are in constant transition from one shelter, hospital, or jail to another, consistent treatment may be difficult or impossible to find. Also, while addiction can affect people from all demographics, there is still considerable social stigma that can make an individual hesitate to seek treatment.6 In consideration of this, there are are addiction treatment resources available that can help individuals struggling with homelessness get on the road to recovery.
Misconception #: Homelessness Stems From Deficiency In Character
When all homeless people are included in the statistics, we learn only 26% of the entire homeless community suffers from a serious drug addiction. This means the overwhelming majority, which equates to 74%, are not addicted to drugs.
Still, the public blames homeless people for their dire state, as if homelessness highlights some sort of pre-existing character flaw.
Fact check: The three leading reasons for homelessness have nothing to do with character. They are as follows:
- Lack of affordable housing
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Homelessness & Cycles Of Drug Addiction And Alcoholism
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Addiction And Homelessness: Sobering Statistics
The number of people in California grappling with drug addiction and homelessness is a sobering reality. Now, more than ever, the states homeless, mentally ill, and drug addicted find themselves suffering while statewide initiatives like a drug sobriety center, additional psychiatry centers, and expanded hours in the states Behavioral Health Access Center are still in the works.
We all know what we want to see happen we budget for it, but we havent seen it yet, Rafael Mandelman, who serves on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, says. But we did have an intervening pandemic. Despite ongoing efforts, Californias drug addiction and homelessness remain an issue, evident by the following statistics:
- According to a 2019 report, an estimated 4,000 San Franciscans, 35% of whom are Black, suffer from mental illness, homelessness, and addiction. 41% frequently use Californias urgent and emergency psychiatric services.
- Californias Health Care Almanac reports that more than half of California students have used alcohol and almost 40% have used marijuana by the 11th grade.
- Every day, an estimated 3 San Diegans die from opioid related and other drug overdoses. In San Francisco, approximately 2 people die from fentanyl-related drug overdose every day.
- According to The San Francisco Chronicle, medical examiners found that 468 people died of a drug overdose between January and August 2020 in San Francisco.
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The White House Initiative
The Obama Administration made fighting the epidemic a priority, and recently requested $1.1 billion in the FY 2017 budget to address opioid abuse. The initiative includes public and private sector goals to improve access to treatment, increase provider use of evidence-based medical therapies including buprenorphine and naloxone, and evaluate the effectiveness of treatment programs that employ MAT.
Homeless Mentally Ill And Addicted: The Downward Spiral
Several states are in the midst of hepatitis A virus outbreaks. San Diego and the surrounding region are among the hardest hit, but southeast Michigan has more reported cases and more deaths. Utah, Colorado and Kentucky also have experienced outbreaks.
California had 683 cases as of Jan. 23, with 21 deaths. Michigan recorded 715 cases as of Jan. 24, with 24 deaths. Colorado has had 62 cases, and one reported death.
Understanding these outbreaks requires acknowledging the links between homelessness, addiction and mental illnessand it requires more than a single solution.
Hepatitis A is typically a disease spread by human contact with already-infected individuals or pieces of their stool that are too small to see. High-risk groups include the homeless, the incarcerated and drug usersall groups that have some overlap. The homeless and the incarcerated also suffer from mental illness and are drug users, a condition known as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders, and the deficiencies of health care in many prison facilities make incarceration a key risk factor.
According to a 2009 National Coalition for the Homeless fact sheet, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that 20 to 25 percent of the homeless population in the United States suffers from some form of severe mental illness, compared to only six percent of the population as a whole.
This started a national trend of de-institutionalization, Roberts wrote.
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Homeless Populations Access To Treatment And Addiction Rehab Centers In Sacramento California
The Sacramento Public Health Department estimated that somewhere between 10,000 and 11,000 Sacramento residents would experience homelessness in 2019. The department reached out to a group of individuals who identified as homeless in one particular count.
According to a published slideshow report of some recent findings and future plans titled Alcohol and Drug Services For Persons Experiencing Homelessness, of the 5,570 individuals that made up this particular homeless population, nine percent of individuals reported that drug and alcohol use prevented them from holding down a job or stable housing. This group consisted of 52% men and 48% women.
Additionally, in more general terms, the department claims some 60% of respondents said that they use alcohol or non-medical drugs. However, only 15% of those respondents indicated that they believed alcohol or drug use impacted their ability to hold a job or secure stable housing.
These numbers may seem high or low, depending on the perspective and background of an individual looking at this data. However, one thing is clear: substance use disorders do affect people in the homeless populations in Sacramento and across California. The impact of a substance use disorder, even in the life of one person, can evolve into a path that leads to negative mental and physical consequences.
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Figure : Number Of Inpatients In Public Mental Hospitals Per 100k Americans
California was no exception amid the nationwide deinstitutionalization and has had a shortage of adult psychiatric beds. According to a RAND study , California is estimated to have a shortfall of 4,767 acute and sub-acute inpatient beds and 2,963 community residential beds. The magnitude of the states need for adult psychiatric beds is expected to grow over time.
Short of psychiatric inpatient beds, emergency room doctors often have little choice but to release mentally ill patients within a few days. Some patients may be referred to a county or private agency for help. But the time and effort it takes to access those services can be a barrier for many.
In recent years, there have been policy efforts to allow managed care organizations to receive Medicaid reimbursement for acute psychiatric care. But that care extends to only 15 days per month .
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Homelessness And Drug Addiction: The Vicious Cycle
Homelessness and drug addiction often go together because of the high cost of drug addiction. An individual with a hard-core heroin addiction may spend $150 to $200 per day, for example. If that person loses his job, he can easily run through his life savings in a matter of weeks.
Many people who are addicted to drugs end up homeless because they can no longer afford housing. Money spent on drugs is money thats unavailable for housing.
Some addicts lose their jobs. Without a steady paycheck, they end up losing their homes to foreclosure or eviction. Homeless and addicted to drugs or alcohol, they find themselves living on the streets. A vicious cycle has begun of addiction, homelessness and more addiction.
It may take an entire team of family, friends and others to help someone break out of that vicious cycle. It may be difficult, but it can be done, and resources are available. It just takes someone like a social worker or addiction counselor who knows and understands what programs are available locally to help families find the help they need for a loved one.
Another Important Factor: The Difference Between Causation And Correlation
Even if the numbers were inaccurate, and drug addiction was running rampant as many perceive, this still doesnt mean it is actually causing homelessness. There is a huge difference between something that is a cause and something that is a correlation.
To bring this to scale, lets look at the whole of society. The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics projects that if we include alcohol and tobacco with illegal drug use , we get a jaw-dropping 165 million American drug addicts. If drug addiction was a critical factor in causing homelessness, why dont we have 165 million homeless people walking around with no place to go?
Multiple studies indicate that many people who lose their homes wind up addicted to drugs after they become homeless as a response to the horrifying trauma.
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What Substances Are Commonly Abused By The Homeless
Alcohol is the most common substance of abuse used by individuals who are homeless. Alcohol is a top substance of abuse for the homeless population due to it being easily available and cheap to buy. Mini bottles of alcohol can be found in liquor stores and sometimes in convenience stores for as little as $1.50.Other drugs that are commonly sold on the street, like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, can also be significant drugs of abuse. Injection drug use, like that of heroin, cocaine, and meth, contributes significantly to homeless individuals with HIV and AIDS, and hepatitis. The use of shared needles, along with the high that these drugs give, usually results in unsafe sex and other risky behaviors.
Other drugs abused by homeless people might also include synthetic cannabinoids, such as spice. While it may be thought of as a legal alternative to marijuana and easily obtained in shady convenience stores, spice is highly addictive and can cause adverse side effects, like rapid heart rate, suicidal thoughts, and overdose. Death is a possibility also. Tobacco use disorders may be common among homeless individuals.
Barriers To Substance Use Disorder Treatment In California
The Sacramento Public Health Department has identified several barriers to accessing addiction treatment in the homeless community. The presentation lists the following as probable reasons:
- comorbidity : simultaneously present medical conditions in an individual
The department also touches on the issues of stigma that surround addiction and addiction treatment. Although substance use disorders might be coated in a negative connotation by society, ignoring the reality of these struggles and the people who struggle daily with this, it hardly improves the situation or health of any person struggling with addiction.
The Sacramento Public Health Department cites the Surgeon Generals Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, explaining that while 1 in 7 people in the United States are expected to develop a substance use disorder, only 1 in 10 people receive treatment.
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Veteran Homelessness And Substance Abuse
Veterans are also affected by homelessness and substance abuse. Research from the Journal of Opioid Management with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs found that veterans who sought treatment for opioid use disorder were 10 times more likely to have experienced homelessness versus the general veteran population.
Honesty Is Step One To Recovery
Reaching out for help can be profoundly difficult, and this may be particularly true for homeless people. The fact is, reaching out with honesty about your living situation is essential to accessing the services you need to address your substance abuse disorder and your housing situation. If you have questions or want to know more about drug addiction treatment, we encourage you to contact us at any time.
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What Is Drug Abuse According To Who
Overview. Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. One of the key impacts of illicit drug use on society is the negative health consequences experienced by its members.
Do homeless choose to be homeless?
No one truly chooses to be homeless. Certainly, the nearly 50 percent of homeless people who are women and children dont choose homelessness over being housed.
Do people become homeless because of drug addiction?
Addiction to drugs and/ or alcohol is both a cause and consequence of homelessness. Problems with drugs or alcohol can be part of a persons spiral into homelessness. Of course not everyone who has problems with alcohol or drugs becomes homeless and not every homeless person has problems with drug or alcohol abuse.