The Sober Living AZ Blog

Homelessness and Addiction

Posted on 08/18/19: Addiction Recovery \ Uncategorized

We attribute abusive tendencies with certain people more than others, and it is no secret that poorer demographics are generally associated with addiction. Many stereotype the homeless as alcoholics and drug abusers, and oftentimes this tends to be true on some level. Addiction can be both the cause and the result of homelessness. Substance abuse becomes a method of coping with the harsh conditions that result from homelessness, some of them being violence, lack of shelter, starvation, and deteriorating health. But this is not always the case, as not all drug abusers are homeless and not all homeless people are drug abusers.

Regardless of what led to the current state of their lives, homeless people are still human and their condition deserves to be treated like the disease it is. If the average person struggles with overcoming addiction, imagine having to go through the same process, all by yourself, directly within the environment that is causing the issue in the first place? The social isolation and lack of regard that homeless people often face make recovery even tougher.

It should also be noted that homelessness can mean a variety of different things, but the root of the term remains the same: the state of having no home. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, “more than a half-million people are sleeping outside or in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program on any given night”. People can experience homelessness on levels that can be referred to as:

1) Unsheltered – Living on the streets, camping outdoors, or living in cars or abandoned buildings.

2) Sheltered – Staying in emergency shelters or transitional housing.

3) Doubled up – Residing with friends or family temporarily.

The reasons for homelessness are essentially limitless. They can range from, but are not limited to:

  • Poverty
  • Divorce
  • Family Breakdowns
  • Escaping an abusive home or relationship
  • Unemployment
  • Debt
  • Physical Disability
  • Failure to receive financial assistance

Generally speaking, the lack of a fixed, regular, safe, and adequate place to sleep at night is regarded as homelessness. Sometimes homelessness is only a temporary solution: you need to crash on your friend’s couch for a few weeks, and you understand they will find yourself in a better situation once you get back on your feet. But for those living on the streets, the outcome isn’t so bright. A research survey asked 25 cities to share the top reasons for homelessness in their region, and 68% reported that substance abuse was number one among single adults. A separate study reported that two-thirds of the homeless they interviewed reported that drug and/or alcohol abuse was a major cause of their homelessness. Additional reports suggest that 33% of homeless people battle mental illness that can include bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, extreme paranoia, depressive episodes, and severe anxiety. The cyclical relationship between mental health disorders and addiction makes it that much more difficult for the homeless to break their dependencies.

Homeless women have a higher tendency to abuse drugs than their male counterparts, with one-third of the entire homeless female population abusing heroin and crack-cocaine. As mentioned, homelessness can happen for a variety of reasons. With women, homelessness is sometimes the result of escaping domestic violence, a sexually abusive relationship, or work in the sex trafficking industry. In these instances, trauma has inevitably occurred and the substance abuse that is to follow will only make those unaddressed issues even more difficult to cope with.

Homeless youth and young adults have gone through significant trauma as well. Homelessness at such an early age is often due to lack of proper parenting, running away from an abusive family, and/or living in a home where drug addiction and substance abuse are prevalent. Early on, these kids find themselves in a very vulnerable state and the easiest thing to do is to turn to something that will diminish their pain. Sadly, developing these tendencies at such a young age will cause their addiction and any co-occurring disorders to follow them into adulthood.

Overall, homeless addicts tend to cycle in and out of shelters, jail, and hospitals due to discontinued care. Shelters can only offer a certain amount of assistance, especially when it comes to medical attention, and some refuse to extend their programs to homeless people suffering from substance abuse. If you feel yourself slipping into addiction, and your decisions are leading you toward potential homelessness, take a step back and consider a few important areas:

  1. Your job. Make sure you stay employed and even seek a different position if you feel that your current job is contributing to your addiction.
  2. Detox. It might be time to seek additional medical support to overcome what you’re going through. You know better than anyone else when it is time to ask for help.
  3. Support. Turn to family and friends for understanding.
  4. Set New Goals. Make it a point to always be working toward something, whether it’s a fitness goal, a work goal, or a personal goal.

For those who are already homeless, community outreach programs are the smartest and the best routes to take in getting a handle on your addiction crisis. Sober living homes, halfway houses, shelters, and more are all outlets designed to be able to help homeless individuals who have found themselves addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Getting a homeless person off the street and into a stable living environment is the first step toward a successful recovery. There are plenty of housing options available to the homeless, two of these include dry housing and damp housing. Dry housing has a strict abstinence policy, and damp housing allows people with and without substance abuse disorders to co-exist. Although the latter situation may not be ideal, it’s a starting point for those that don’t have any other resources available to them. Check out the resources on https://togetheraz.com/ as well.

Life on the street is not easy, but you don’t have to live it anymore. Reach out to us today, and let’s see what Sober Living AZ can do for you.


If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, contact Sober Living of AZ now to get the help you need. Sober Living offers an acclaimed recovery environment that merges upscale and luxury accommodations with affordability, clinical expertise and an unwavering commitment to patient care and aftercare. Call us now at 602-737-2458.

Content for Scottsdale Recovery Center and Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers created by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best. www.cohn.media

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