The homeless population of the United States has been on a steady increase in the past several years; the covid 19 pandemic sent homeless rates skyrocketing. It’s become so prevalent that FEMA had to announce a federal homeless emergency several years ago, which has affected not only those living on the streets but also the local homeowners. Homeless addicts are another major problem of the cities today. Tent camping, human waste, and drug use in the neighborhood are a few common issues facing the cities with a homeless crisis.
Relationship between Homeless Addicts and Mental Disorders
Addiction and mental illness are both common links, but another common link in that chain is homelessness. There is a high rate of correlation between homelessness and addiction/mental health disorders. The timeline for how these are all related is interchangeable. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, nearly two-thirds of homeless people cite drug and/or alcohol abuse as their reason for being homeless.
Some people are homeless because they let their addiction take priority, couldn’t find work, spent all their money on drugs. Some people are homeless because they have a hard time finding work due to their mental illness or addiction habits. Other times homeless people turn to addiction as a means of short-term escapism.
Research shows that substance abuse disorder is more common among people experiencing homelessness than in the general population. It is estimated that around 38% of the homeless abuse alcohol, and about 26%of the homeless abuse drugs other than alcohol; approximately 33% of homeless people battle mental illness.
Common Mental Disorders Among the Homeless Include
- Bipolar disorder
- Schizophrenia/ Schizoaffective disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Major depressive disorder
- Severe anxiety
The combination of mental disorders and substance abuse is known as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. While it might appear to be that drugs and alcohol use can suppress difficult mental conditions, this creates a dangerous pattern of dependency.
How to help someone with depression
According to the latest statistics from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, it is estimated that about two-thirds of homeless individuals are people with depression or other severe health conditions.
There are several ways to support and help a person with depression and substance abuse issues. Suppose a loved one is experiencing symptoms of depression or has had a history of mental illness, substance abuse, or having suicidal thoughts. In that case, you are probably looking for effective techniques to ease their suffering. Continue to provide a compassionate ear and listen to their concerns, challenges, and fears. Talk your loved ones through different treatment options for drug abuse and mental health issues.
Helping the Homeless Youths
Numerous homeless youths and young adults are victims of substance abuse. Youths aged 12 to 17 are in more danger of homelessness than adults, and many homeless youths have been the victims of severe abuse. 71% of missing, runaway, or kidnapped children reported a substance abuse disorder. Many factors contribute to such youth homelessness substance abuse, like:
- Growing up in a homeless family
- Family members with substance abuse
- Family abuse
- Maladaptive coping mechanics to stress
- Co-occurring disorders
- Use of substance abuse at a young age
- Physical, sexual, and emotional abuse
- Running away from home
Homeless youths with substance use disorders are much more vulnerable to long-term substance abuse and untreated co-occurring disorders, which also follow them into adulthood, and ultimately become a way of living for many people.
Helping the Homeless
As of now, cities are all putting forth an effort to be seen helping the homeless. The most typical and common way they go about doing this is to open more homeless shelters. Homeless shelters are known for being dirty, full of disease, and dangerous places. It’s tough to regulate everything that goes on within a homeless shelter, especially with such low budgets. In addition to homeless shelters being undesirable, even to the homeless population, they are notoriously hard to get into. In the cities, there are only a fraction of spots available in homeless shelters compared to the amount of homeless; they also have very strict and difficult guidelines to follow (like curfews) or else they lose their spot.
The difficulty of getting a spot and following guidelines to have your spot in a homeless shelter, coupled with the undesirable conditions and concerns for well-being once admitted has caused many homeless people to not even consider trying to get help through a shelter. Many consider themselves better off just living on the streets.
In terms of addiction, these homeless shelters do not offer much help for the mental disorder. In many cases, shelters do more damage than good for people struggling with drug addiction or alcohol use disorder. There are many people who sell or use drugs in the shelters, and within the system, people may use shelters to network for other people to buy or sell drugs. Life in a shelter can be very triggering for someone who is trying to maintain sobriety.
Treating addiction may be one way to help homelessness at its core. If two-thirds of people who are homeless blame their situation on their addiction, then getting them adequate health care options and help for addiction seems like a logical step towards helping.
There are grave connections between homelessness and addiction, but hope is not lost. Medical professionals at treatment centers understand the needs of their patients and of homeless addicts. Please call the Pacific Sands Recovery Center at 833 338 6962 for more information on how you can help a friend or family member in your life who has become homeless.