Homelessness and Substance Abuse
A common misconception of homelessness is that they are all alcoholics and drug addicts. The truth is that a high percentage of the homeless do struggle with substance abuse, but addictions are recognized as medical illness and require treatment, counseling and support for recovery. It is not uncommon for someone with drug or alcohol addiction to experience problems in their relationships with family and friends, to lose their job and in many cases even lose their housing resulting in homelessness. However, substance abuse can be both a cause and result of homelessness and in many cases occurs after people lose their place to live.
Research conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) reported that in 2011 there were 407,966 persons living on the streets, in shelters or in transitional housing. Of those, over 100,000 were chronically homeless. During 2011, more than 1.5 million people experienced homelessness and nearly 85 percent of the homeless were single individuals, not married. The SAMHSA report further suggested that 34.7 percent of homeless persons in shelter struggled with chronic alcohol abuse and 26 percent abused drugs; however according to data from the National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients (NSHAPC) more than 80 percent of homeless persons struggle with lifetime drug and/or alcohol abuse. It should be noted that the ability to obtain accurate and consistent data among the homeless is problematic.
Substance Abuse Disorder
The American Medical Association (AMA) identifies substance abuse disorder as a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestation. The disease is often progressive and fatal.” (Journal of the American Medical Association) The AMA further reports that mental illness and substance abuse are connected. About 50 percent of persons diagnosed with mental illness also have some type of substance abuse. Additionally, 37 percent struggle with alcoholism and 53 percent have some form of drug addiction.
Treatment and Support
Breaking an addiction to drugs and alcohol is difficult for anyone and it can be especially difficult for someone who is homeless. One of the first obstacles is the lack of a support system to encourage them to stop using. Without loved ones to lend their support, the homeless person struggling with substance abuse is out on their own. For many, finding food and shelter is a constant issue, and takes priority over substance abuse treatment. Another problem is that the vast majority of homeless people do not know where to go for help. Many of the programs offered advocate abstinence only, which reports indicate are less effective than harm reduction. Further most abstinence programs do not address relapse or offer strategies in the event of relapse. The first step is helping the homeless to find permanent shelter. Studies show that until this happens, they will not be able to get the treatment and support they need to overcome their substance abuse and/or addiction. When you are ready for recovery, Gallus Detox Center is here to help. Call us today, at 855-338-6929.