The Homeless and Drug Addiction

The homeless and drug addiction isn’t a topic that garners much public sympathy. For many people, providing support to homeless individuals who use drugs is counter-intuitive. However, there are a number of misconceptions about the homeless and addiction that makes a real resolve to the problem difficult. The fact of the matter is that addiction is often the cause of homelessness, and sometimes homelessness is the cause of addiction. Understanding the root cause of either of these problems is critical to developing resources and public education with the focus of resolving not just homelessness, but addiction as well.

Many people are unaware that addiction can directly cause homelessness. The social, economic, occupational and family dysfunctions caused by addiction can lead a person to lose everything and have no choice but to turn to a homeless facility for food and shelter. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless;

“A 2008 survey by the United States Conference of Mayors asked 25 cities for their top three causes of homelessness. Substance abuse was the single largest cause of homelessness for single adults (reported by 68% of cities). Substance abuse was also mentioned by 12% of cities as one of the top three causes of homelessness for families. According to Didenko and Pankratz (2007), two-thirds of homeless people report that drugs and/or alcohol were a major reason for their becoming homeless.” (1)

While these USCM statistics are sobering, they do not detract from the fact that some people turn to drugs as a result of their homelessness. Whatever a particular person’s situation may be, the causes of homelessness are usually severe and include mental illness and domestic violence. In order to cope with these and other issues, many people who become homeless turn to drugs or alcohol and quickly become addicted. And because their lives are in such deplorable conditions there is generally no motivation to quit using once a person starts.

Public perception concerning the homeless and addiction is a double-edged sword. In fact, some people have sought to discourage the public discourse and general knowledge of the close relationship between addiction and homelessness. In a 1989 article for the New York Times Gina Kolata describes this problem;

“Advocates like Robert M. Hayes, director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, a group with headquarters in New York, say they have shied away from discussing the problem of addiction in the past, in part because they feared that the public would lose its sympathy for the homeless.” (2)

This public perception issue coupled with the economic disadvantages of people suffering through both homelessness and addiction can make it difficult or impossible to seek and obtain proper addiction treatment. With resources already stretched thin in most communities, homeless people with addiction problems are generally not a priority.

If your life or the life of someone you know is spinning out of control due to drug addiction, call the number at the top of your screen now for a free, confidential consultation. We have experts available to speak with you now about our programs which are widely considered among the most successful in the country. These include:

Residential Inpatient Treatment
Outpatient Treatment
Day/Night Treatment

We’re here 24 hours per day and can help you no matter where you are, so there’s no excuse not to call. Take action now and take back your life.

(1) National Coalition for the Homeless Substance Abuse and Homelessness July, 2009

Accessed 07/22/2011

(2) Kolata, Gina Twins of the Streets: Homelessness and Addiction 05/22/1989 The New York Times

Accessed 07/22/2011

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