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Drug and alcohol abuse and addiction has its effects and has its toll on the nation, all across the nation too.  These are issues that simply worsen over and over again time and time again with no sign or indication of letting up any time soon or for any reason.  Substance abuse since the turn of the century really has started to make serious and scary and very damaging and dangerous effects all across the nation, one way or another and with different problems of its own that just seems to worsen and become more severe and scary as the years go by.

One of these byproducts of addiction that are really problems of their own is that of homelessness.  Sure enough, homelessness almost always has a direct correlation of one kind or another to addiction.  These two really do go hand in hand more often than not, making for a difficult crisis.  Homelessness is on the rise in the nation, as is addiction.  Homeless people, once homeless, tend to stay that way and they tend to run into problems and troubles too because of it.  They can’t get jobs because they can’t pass a drug test, and so the problem continues and worsens as the years go by one after the other.

People who abuse drugs and alcohol eventually will get abandoned by their families who do not want to watch them kill themselves.  People who abuse drugs and alcohol lose their jobs, their possessions, their pets and their kids, and eventually their homes.  Addiction robs an individual of anything and everything that he can call his, and then it takes the person’s very life itself.  The mortality rate of homeless people in the United States is pretty high because of this.

The True Data on Homeless Numbers

When people look at homeless persons it’s important to not look at them so much as homeless but rather to look at them as struggling drug and alcohol addicts.  As a result, one might wonder how many homeless people there are in the nation.  However, the problem with that is that homelessness statistics are a cause for much debate in the country, as it is difficult to get a reliable number. This is because there are methodological and financial constraints when it comes to collecting such data, and the definition of a homeless person is pretty loose and not always agreed upon state to state.

The homeless persons facts and figures focus tends to be on those who stay in shelters or who attend soup kitchens, but this is not a fair representation of all who are homeless by any means at all. This means that many individuals will never be counted in the numbers, truthfully. There is also the problem that for people who are temporarily without a home, such individuals are also likely to be missed in the data, though they definitely are homeless.

1. Nevertheless, studies show that it is estimated that there are no less than 3.5 million people in the United States who would fall under the category of what is mostly agreed upon as homeless.

2. This works out to about 1% of the population and includes no less than 1.5 million children.

3. There are believed to be about 100 million people around the world without a home so 3.5% of these individuals live in the U.S., which is actually good because the U.S. represents about six or seven percent of the world’s population but only has about 3.5 percent of the world’s homeless.

4. It is believed that recent problems with the economy may increase the number of homeless by as much as 1.5 million in the U.S. It is key not to rest on one’s laurels here.

What Causes Homelessness in America

There are a lot of different factors that cause homelessness in the United States, the main and the most impinging one already being mentioned above and that being addiction and substance abuse in general.  However, there are a lot of other factors to consider too like:

• Poverty
• Divorce or other relationship breakdown
• Mental illness
• No local affordable housing
• Rent arrears
• Escaping an abusive home
• Those individuals who previously had housing in the army or other institution
• Failure to receive child support
• A personal tragedy or post-traumatic stress disorder
• Natural Disaster victims
• Unemployment
• Released inmates
• Inability to get social assistance
• Domestic violence victims
• A wage that is too low to pay for housing
• Poor physical health
• Those individuals who have been socially excluded
• Physical disabilities
• Family breakdowns
• Lack of affordable health care
• Debt problems

Homelessness and Substance Abuse: A Vicious Circle

“It is believed that about 68% of homeless people abuse alcohol while 56% regularly use other drugs of one kind or another.”

These statistics show that substance abuse in and among this group is significantly higher than it is in 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 of being homeless, which to a degree is true.  For many, drinking and drug use is what causes individuals to become homeless.  For others, something else causes them to be homeless and they then go on to abuse drugs and alcohol and thusly become addicted to such substances. For homeless Americans, these people will often be dealing with a high degree of stress and upset that is very real and impinging for them; some will have mental health problems too, so it is understandable that many will be tempted to turn to substance abuse as a form of self-medication or of coping with their highly unpleasant situations.

What to Do About Homelessness and Addiction

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 a homeless situation because of such use and abuse of these types of substances. Abusing alcohol and drugs can be highly detrimental to the life of the individual and it can make things very, very bad for him or her. It can rob them of everything they’ve ever had before, including their job, their family, their possessions, and their friends. Addiction always involves a downward trajectory that can easily lead to homelessness, so therefore it needs to be addressed in an individual before this happiness.

For those who are already homeless, community outreach programs are easily the smartest and the best routes to take in getting a handle on their addiction crisis. Sober living homes, halfway houses, homeless shelters, all of these and more are designed to also be able to help homeless individuals who are addicted to drugs and alcohol.  For those who are abusing drugs and alcohol but who are not yet homeless, these individuals need to be guided into inpatient rehab centers as soon as is possible and before it is too late.  They can get all the help the possibly need from such rehab centers, and rehab programs can guide them to a path of sobriety before their addiction drives them into a state of homelessness.

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