Homelessness and Addiction
Most of the addicts and alcoholics who arrive at A Friend of Bill's
are homeless and indigent. Their disease has taken their
homes and the ability to sustain a manner of living in which they
can support themselves. After being here awhile, they become
self sufficient, productive members of society once more.
relationship between addiction and homelessness is complex and
controversial. While rates of alcohol and drug abuse are disproportionately
high among the homeless population, the increase in homelessness
over the past two decades cannot be explained by addiction alone.
Many people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs never become
homeless, but people who are poor and addicted are clearly at increased
risk of homelessness.
During the 1980s, competition for increasingly
scarce low-income housing grew so intense that those with disabilities such
as addiction and mental illness were more likely to lose out and find themselves
on the streets. The loss of SRO housing, a source of stability for many poor
people suffering from addiction and/or mental illness, was a major factor
in increased homelessness in many communities.
Addiction does increase the risk of displacement for the precariously
housed; in the absence of appropriate treatment, it may doom one's
chances of getting housing once on the streets. Homeless people
often face insurmountable barriers to obtaining health care, including
addictive disorder treatment services and recovery supports. The
following are among the obstacles to treatment for homeless persons:
lack of health insurance; lack of documentation; waiting lists;
scheduling difficulties; daily contact requirements; lack of transportation;
ineffective treatment methods; lack of supportive services; and
cultural insensitivity. An in-depth study of 13 communities across
the nation revealed service gaps in every community in at least
one stage of the treatment and recovery continuum for homeless
people (National Coalition for the Homeless, 1998).
In the final analysis,
homelessness results from a complex set of circumstances which require people
to choose between food, shelter, and other basic needs. Only a concerted effort
to ensure jobs that pay a living wage, adequate support for those who cannot
work, affordable housing, and access to health care will bring an end to homelessness.
Additional Information About Homelessness:
National Alliance to End Homelessness
Homelessness - HUD
Institute for the Study of Homelessness
Interagency Council on Homelessness
Homelessness - Tennessee
Homeless Search Engine - Tennessee
Homelessness and Addiction Recovery