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Exploring the Role Addiction Plays in Homelessness

Becoming homeless is rarely a choice. The same is true for addiction as it is a mental disorder that some people have higher risk of developing than others. The role addiction plays in homelessness can be complicated and not as simple as saying that all homeless people are drug addicts. In fact, substance abusrele can be both as result and a cause of homelessness, frequently beginning as a result of losing a place to stay.

3 Minute Read | Published Oct 12 2023 | Updated Feb 22 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Ashley Bayliss
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Ashley Bayliss
Reviewed by

Addiction Treatment – Exploring the Role Addiction Plays in Homelessness

Homelessness and Addiction Statistics

According to a publication released by the National Coalition for the Homeless, roughly 38 percent of people living on the streets had alcohol use disorder, and a further 26 percent abused other substances such as opioids or meth. Alcohol abuse was more prevalent in older homeless people while drugs were abused by younger people. Further homelessness and addiction statistics from 2016 indicate that around 60 percent of homeless people in America suffer from addiction or another mental disorder.

When Substance Abuse Causes Homelessness

The role addiction plays in homelessness where the substance abuse actually caused the person to lose their home can come about from all of the negative effects that substance use disorder has on a person’s life. Addiction causes problems in relationships and can result in people losing their jobs.

For example, opioid addiction and homelessness can be linked due to the financial difficulties caused by their drug-seeking behavior. Opioid addiction and homelessness are linked in this case by causing the person to lose their job and as a result, their housing because they are unable to afford it.

The many problems that the addict has instigated through their abuse with their family and friends can leave them without a place to stay. With nowhere to go and an addiction still controlling their behavior and decision making, continued substance abuse and often criminal activities follow.

When Homelessness Causes Substance Abuse

The role addiction plays in homelessness in situations where the person first became homeless then started abusing drugs is similar to other common causes of substance abuse. The situation that the person finds themselves in can be very hard to deal with, and drugs and alcohol can be a way for them to deal with their issues in the short-term. Self-medicating the stress and anxiety they feel over their situation eventually leads to an addiction due to the repeated use.

Unfortunately, substance abuse leads to even greater problems. Addiction can result in poor decision making and judgment, as well as a focus on acquiring more drugs as opposed to finding a real solution to their problem. While finding a new job can help them get off the streets, finding and holding a job becomes very difficult when the person is an addict with other priorities.

Furthermore, some people may find it necessary to get involved with substance abuse to fit in with homeless communities.

Finding Help

It can be exceedingly difficult to stop substance abuse without the supportive environment and assistance that is essential to recovery. However, stopping substance abuse is the first step to reclaiming your life as a homeless addict.

Rehab facilities can be one of the few ways that a person can find the support and treatment they need to beat an addiction. Not only can the treatment at rehab assist in breaking the cycle of addiction, but it can help to rebuild relationships in the person’s life through family counseling.

By looking at the role addiction plays in homelessness, the need for assistance through a rehab facility can be made clear. If you want to find help for a homeless loved one or yourself, call Better Addiction Care today at (800) 429-7690.


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