According to U.S. News, a recent report has shown that 554,000 people are homeless in the United States, with 193,000 having no access to a nightly shelter, causing them to live in vehicles, tents, streets, and other places deemed inhabitable. The cause for this increase in the homeless is dependent on a variety of factors: the economy has made it more difficult for low-wage workers to survive, and a Hepatitis A outbreak left over 5,600 in various regions in California living out of their vehicles. In addition to these two concerns, many people whom are homeless struggle with substance abuse.
Substance abuse has the potential to disrupt nearly every aspect of a person’s life. Under performance at work or consecutive absent days with no documented excuse can cause someone to lose their job. Destroyed family/friend connections due to addiction-related behavior can weaken ties towards security and safety, causing many to live homeless. The Salvation Army notes that poverty, unemployment, lack of affordable housing, substance abuse, gambling, family/relationship breakdown, domestic violence, and physical and/or sexual abuse are all common reasons for homelessness.
As stated by the National Coalition for the Homeless, breaking addiction can be very difficult for those who do not have the proper tools and support. For many homeless people, survival is more important than personal growth and development, and seeking food or shelter may be more important to them than seeking out substance abuse rehabilitation. Many utilize substances as a coping mechanism; self-medication is used to help them deal with the problems they are experiencing in their life and to help them feel relaxed, happy, and calm. However, this serves as only a temporary fix, as many then must find ways to obtain the substance and their addictive behavior intensifies.
Many who are homeless don’t just experience substance abuse, but also a co-occurring mental disorder. This can be especially challenging because they may be self-medicating to relieve unwanted symptoms found from the mental illness; in turn, their substance abuse may also exacerbate new symptoms, causing them to develop a new mental illness.
Many people in America are struggling, and we must change our perception that those who are homeless cannot be helped. We must also take precaution and seek out treatment for ourselves the moment we learn of a mental illness or substance abuse problem. In doing this, we may be able to prevent ourselves from reaching homelessness.
New Vista Behavioral Health is home to several world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery treatment centers. If you are seeking help, call us today at 888-316-3665 for a consultation. Don’t wait any longer to seek treatment. You could very well save your own life.