When Addiction Is The Cause Of Homelessness
Many people find themselves homeless as the direct result of their addiction. People who are addicted put themselves at great risk of losing their job because they cannot stop themselves from abusing substances. Most companies have zero tolerance for substance abuse in the workplace. Additionally, there are consequences of abusing substances outside of work because people lose their ability to function or fulfill their duties when at work properly.
The result is they lose their job. It is tough to find or keep a future job while suffering from addiction.
In 2017, CareerBuilder stated that 78 percent of workers live paycheck to paycheck. What this means is most Americans do not have enough savings to stay afloat if they lose their job. Hence, people dealing with addiction can find themselves homeless very quickly.
Additionally, addiction causes major problems with friends and family members. Often, they lose the much needed support from the people closest to them.
Hope Is Not Lost: Get Help Today
Connections between homelessness and addiction are unfortunate manifestations of cause and effect, but hope is not lost. Licensed professionals at rehab facilities are sensitive to the needs of their patients. Contact a treatment provider and discover how you or a loved one suffering can take control.
Krystina Murray has received a B.A. in English at Georgia State University, has over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience, and over 15 years of overall writing experience. She enjoys traveling, fitness, crafting, and spreading awareness of addiction recovery to help people transform their lives.
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.
How Homelessness Leads To Drug And Alcohol Abuse
Homelessness caused by drugs and alcohol is common, but in some cases, homelessness is the cause of substance abuse. Some homeless individuals turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with their situation, which is extremely stressful and often demoralizing. Unfortunately, substance abuse only adds to the problem, making it more difficult for homeless people to find and keep employment and work to get off the streets.
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Statistics Related To Homelessness And Drug Use
The statistics related to homelessness and drug abuse paint a very grim picture. They show that substance abuse is more common among the homeless as compared to the general masses. Consider the following facts from Michaels House:
- 38% of the homeless people engage in alcoholism
- Approximately 26% of the homeless abuse substances other than alcohol
- Alcohol abuse is more frequent among the older sections of the homeless population
- Drug abuse is more common among the younger sections of the homeless
- A survey of 25 cities shows that 68% of respondents think substance abuse is the top reason for homelessness
- A different survey found that two-thirds of the surveyed homeless highlighted substance abuse as the major factor behind their homelessness
Many homeless youths have a drug abuse problem as well. 71% of missing or runaway children reported suffering from substance abuse.
Treating The Homeless Population: What Works Best
Less than 25% of homeless people with an alcohol and/or drug addiction are likely to get needed treatment. A comprehensive approach is vital for addressing the many factors involved in homelessness.
A review of 20 facilities offering substance abuse treatment to the homeless found these characteristics:
- Housing access A stable living environment is a critical factor in recovery of the homeless.
- Well-trained staff Compassionate, flexible and experienced care is vital to an effective program.
- Client-centered services A tailored treatment plan can provide a better pathway to recovery than a one-size-fits-all program.
- Integrated services Since the homeless often have co-occurring mental issues, having multidisciplinary professionals in-house can provide centralized, coordinated treatment for greater effectiveness.
- Comprehensive services Addressing the many complex needs of a homeless person including survival and social needs treats homelessness holistically .10
While psychiatric hospitals and emergency rooms are where the homeless are often treated, other options exist. Non-hospital residential and outpatient programs often provide a broader menu of services. The most common type of residential treatment for the homeless is hospital detox. Outpatient treatment methods include individual counseling, outpatient detox, and 12-Step programs. But, alas, outpatient care does not provide housing a critical factor to the homeless.
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How Addiction Leads To Homelessness
Substance abuse is often the cause of homelessness.
Addiction can rupture relationships, lead to termination of employment and cause people to lose a handle on their finances. Subsequently, they may fail to pay their rent or mortgage and lose their homes. With nowhere else to go and nobody with whom to communicate, their options are limited.
The studies speak for themselves. In 2015, the United States Conference of Mayors, a nonpartisan organization for cities with populations exceeding 30,000 people, asked 22 cities to investigate and determine their top three causes for homelessness.
Thirty-five percent of unaccompanied adults cited substance abuse as a main cause of their homelessness. Ten percent of homeless families cited drugs or alcohol.
A life on the streets rarely cures a drug habit. The need to seek help for addiction is routinely put on the backburner for other priorities, such as finding shelter and food.
Additional Reasons For Housing Loss
For those who reported ASU, the next most frequently reported reason for housing loss was unable to pay rent or mortgage. Compared to non-ASU respondents, those who reported ASU were more likely to report health issues as factors that contributed to housing loss. ASU respondents were more likely to report illness or medical condition than non-ASU respondents , and were more than twice as likely to indicate hospitalization or treatment program compared to non-ASU respondents . Further, ASU respondents were also more likely to report incarceration compared to non-ASU respondents as a contributing factor for their housing loss.
For non-ASU respondents, unable to pay rent or mortgage and conflict with spouse/partner were the most frequently reported reasons for housing loss. Respondents who did not report ASU were generally more likely to report financial issues such as unable to pay rent or mortgage compared to respondents who attributed ASU to their recent housing loss , and were more likely to report unsafe housing conditions compared to ASU respondents . Non-ASU respondents were also more likely to report interpersonal issues such as conflict with: spouse/partner compared to those that did report ASU .
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Homelessness And Addiction By The Numbers
Drug and alcohol abuse constitutes the most pressing public health problem among the homeless.
Varying reports exist on the percentage of homeless individuals with a substance abuse problem. Some studies estimate that about 40 percent of the population is dependent on drugs or alcohol. Others say the figure is more than 50 percent. Several accounts even suggest drug use is twice as common among the homeless, per capita, than among the general population.
At least 800,000 homeless people including 200,000 children roam streets or frequent shelters on a given evening.
The 100,000 Homes Campaign, a movement of communities working to find permanent homes for 100,000 homeless individuals, conducted a survey of more than 30,100 homeless people across the country. Close to 60 percent of participants had a substance abuse problem. Nearly 14 percent engaged in drugs intravenously, and roughly 20 percent had a drug problem without knowing or admitting it.
Another study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, made a number of eye-opening findings with regard to vagrant youth:
Overcoming Drug Addiction While Homeless
Homeless people who are motivated to overcome a drug addiction may find themselves with few options. There is limited access to services, and it is hard to stay clean in a place where drugs are so commonly used. When food and shelter are the main priorities, some may lack the motivation to seek substance use treatment and work on personal development. With roughly 45% of homeless populations suffering from a mental health disorder, some may self-medicate with illicit drugs without having access to proper health care. Many programs for mental health will not accept patients with a substance use disorder, and many programs for substance use treatment will not accept mental health patients. Co-occurring disorders, or dual disorders, are when someone is diagnosed with both a substance abuse disorder and a mental health disorder, and they must both be treated. Many programs are prepared to treat both conditions.
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Too Often Sick Patients Seeking Help Are Turned Away From The Care They Need
The Rat Park experiments were a series of trials carried out in the 1970s, using rats as subjects to track the effects of psychoactive drugs on the mind. The rats were kept in incredibly tight confines in tiny cages and given two bottles to drink from. One contained clean water, the other a cocaine-based solution.
Invariably, the rats opted for the cocaine water the cocaine eventually overtook their systems and they died. The rats essentially killed themselves. It took American psychologist Dr Bruce Alexander, in the late 1970s, to ask the crucial question: why?
Dr Alexander observed that the rats lives had been utterly miserable in those tiny cages isolated, in the dark. Rats, like humans, are a particularly social animal. In an inspirational flourish of anti-establishment thinking, Dr Alexander and his colleagues built Rat Park a living space specifically made to meet the primary needs of the rats: space to run, play, eat, mate, as well as the two available bottles, cocaine water and clean water.
In this environment, the rats mostly opted for the clean water.
Not a single rat overdosed.
This experiment speaks volumes in terms of our understanding of dependencies, and how people respond to traumatic environments. It is also a clear demonstration of the need for systemic change to counter addictive behaviours.
Homelessness is an extraordinarily trauma-inducing state to live in, something I have experienced myself
Cracks in the system
Homelessness And Substance Abuse: Women
Homeless women suffer unique gender-based trauma, contributing to the higher amounts of drug use in homeless women as compared to men. While 30% of homeless people overall suffer mental illness, the rate is significantly higher in populations of women. 50% to 60% of homeless women suffer mental and emotional disturbances, with these phenomena often pre-dating their homelessness. These disturbances often become more severe when combined with homelessness and substance abuse.
Many homeless women become homeless after experiencing domestic violence or sexual trauma some are victims who fled the hard grip of sex trafficking. These factors, along with co-occurring disorders from homelessness, have contributed to the fact that approximately one-third of homeless women have abused Heroin and Crack Cocaine.
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Reducing Risk Factors With Fhe Health
One way to reduce homeless and addiction together is to increase the resources people can access to get help before things spiral out of control. At FHE Health, we offer inpatient and outpatient treatment for those suffering from substance abuse and mental health issues that provide necessary intervention before these issues can compound and become more extensive.
To learn more about how were supporting those who need help in our community and beyond, contact us today.
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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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.
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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Understanding Californias Homeless Population And Addiction
California and homelessness is hardly a novel talking point. For many years, residents and politicians alike have expressed frustration with the growing homeless population and have debated back and forth about public policy that has been proposed in attempts to help the crisis.
Many areas of California have become infamous to people even outside the state. Areas like Los Angeles Skid Row and San Franciscos Tenderloin are areas that are referenced as some of the worst examples of the homeless epidemic and addiction struggles. Both of these neighborhoods have become known for street drug trade, homeless populations, unsanitary living conditions, violent crime, and theft.
Within the last several years, the homelessness epidemic seems to have reached a fevered pitch of complaints, with news about tent cities, unclean streets, mental illness, and quality of life making national and local news headlines. The issues of addiction, alongside mental illness, in the homeless population remain a troublingand sadlyhighly politicized reality.
Just this past October, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the city that is home to the famed Golden Gate Bridge is losing approximately two people each day to drug overdoses. In particular, fentanyl overdoses are spiking and causing increasing concern as the fatality numbers keep increasing.
How did things get so bad?
Perhaps the best way to better understand these issues is to start from the beginning.
Homelessness And Substance Abuse: The Lgbtq Community
LGBTQ populations suffer from high rates of drug and alcohol abuse. They also suffer from minority stress, stress which stems from internalized feelings of cultural/social exclusion and fuels their chemical dependency. Unfortunately, members of the LGBTQ community also have a 120% higher risk of homelessness.
Members of the LGBTQ community are not immune to the devastating effects of homelessness and substance abuse. More members of this community face depression, PTSD, anxiety, suicidal ideation , and self-medicating with substance when homeless. According to Psychology Today, homeless LGBTQ Americans âhave the highest number of illicit drug use.â Homeless lesbian women report higher numbers of alcohol abuse in response to the internalized disorders and minority stress. When homeless, homosexual Americans are more subjected to violence and sexual assault compared to their heterosexual counterparts. In particular, homelessness is more common in the transgender community members of the transgender community often struggle with housing and job discrimination.
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