Addiction and Homelessness
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What are Addiction and Homelessness?
In January 2018, 552,830 people were counted as homeless in the United States. However, it is likely that the true number is higher. Since homelessness does not always result in a total lack of shelter and includes individuals who lack a permanent residence – sometimes living with family, friends, significant others, or in shelters, it can be hard to arrive at a true total.
Furthermore, these homeless individuals are rarely counted in census surveys, since they may be living outside of the terms of a lease or maybe hiding due to mental health or legal issues. While many of these individuals live their lives hidden from public view, the implications of their homelessness have significant consequences for society.
Especially since stigma against homelessness, and stereotypes about its underlying causes, create barriers for these individuals to receive care. While the homeless may be unfairly labeled as lazy or assumed to have “wasted their opportunity,” the truth is that many of these individuals struggle with issues of mental illness or trauma.
An estimated 1.4 million veterans are considered at risk of homelessness, and over 40,000 veterans in the U.S. are homeless on any given night. Additionally, roughly 25-30% of the homeless have a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or severe depression. And while it is true that there are high rates of substance use among homeless populations, this addiction is often comingled with environmental and mental health issues, such as a self-medication strategy for a veteran facing PTSD.
When mental health, homelessness, addiction, and stigma are interconnected, it can become nearly impossible for these men, women, and families, to receive the help they need. But treatment centers, like Resurgence Behavioral Health, can help. Professional treatment teams understand the relationship between homelessness, drugs, and alcohol, as well as the barriers to care that result.
In partnership with professional staff, these individuals can learn to beat their addiction, manage underlying mental health issues, and build a healthy and fulfilling life once again.
Effects of Addiction and Homelessness
Unfortunately, the belief that stigma and bias against homeless populations are “legitimate,” is prevalent throughout society, even in the medical community. While bias against mental health issues and substance addiction is often stigmatized, those with access to resources, such as members of the middle class, be treated with more empathy in healthcare systems.
Healthcare providers may be more willing to entertain the explanations that hereditary factors contributed to addiction and mental health crisis among the more affluent and provide more options for care and recovery. However, issues of mental illness and substance abuse among the homeless are not typically perceived with the same empathy, and are frequently used to label them as difficult, hostile, or “frequent flyers.”
As a result, homeless populations facing addiction are less likely to get the help they need in a traditional hospital setting and may be unaware of the resources available through treatment centers.
Mental Illness, Addiction, and Homelessness
Homelessness, drugs, and alcohol, along with mental illness are interconnected, often forming a cycle that is hard for individuals to escape without professional intervention. One in four individuals with a serious mental illness also has a substance abuse issue.
However, research shows that drug and alcohol use can cause mental health issues in individuals who had no prior history of a mental health crisis.
For example, some substances known to trigger mental health crisis in users include:
- Prescription Drugs, including Valium
Furthermore, the devastating mental health impact of prescription opiates is also widely known, though they are still among the most widely prescribed drugs in the U.S. Just as mental illness can cause drug use, and substance use can cause mental illness, homelessness is also a variable in this cycle. And while most people assume that drug and alcohol addiction can result in homelessness, the reverse is actually true, as well.
Research has found that residential instability and homelessness are a risk factor for substance abuse in individuals who were not previously abusing drugs or alcohol. With this in mind, the relationship between addiction and homelessness is not as simple as many may think, and may involve factors, such as mental illness, which are beyond the control of the individual.
Once social stigma is introduced, however, it can be hard for these individuals to seek help. If they are dismissed as unworthy of time, seeking attention, or simply being “difficult,” it is unlikely that they will be provided with referrals to behavioral health treatment centers they need. But without access to an inpatient or residential program that can assist with the integrated issues of mental health and addiction, it is unlikely that housing efforts alone will help these individuals achieve the stability and recovery they deserve.
Treatment, Addiction, and Homelessness
Contrary to popular belief, there are a variety of residential treatment centers that are open to working with substance-addicted, homeless populations. And this can be a very beneficial option for those who need access to stabilizing, wrap-around care, to begin rebuilding their lives.
Once admitted to a treatment center, the first step in addiction recovery for those experiencing addiction and homelessness will likely be medically supervised substance detoxification. Nearly all addictive substances require a supervised detoxification process and the presence of medical staff will help prevent self-harm, as well as severe side effects such as seizure, heart attack, and stroke.
This detoxification may take several days, depending on the type of drug used. Therapeutic drugs may also be prescribed to the recovering addict to help manage depressive thoughts and the painful side effects of withdrawal. While detoxification can take place in a hospital, those coping with homelessness and addiction should consider seeking professional, residential treatment.
This is because individuals experiencing homelessness and addiction have very specific needs, and do not likely have support networks to comfort them. Recovery centers can offer integrated treatment plans, comfortable, private spaces, and peer support, to help improve the likelihood of success.
Additionally, for recovery to last, individuals who have faced addiction and homelessness need more than just detoxification. These individuals also need support in building coping mechanisms, healthy life skills, and a better sense of their own triggers – such as the treatment they will experience at Resurgence Behavioral Health.
Recognizing how homelessness and mental illness may have played a role in their addiction and connecting patients with resources to help them improve their lives, are key components to a successful treatment plan. When addiction treatment is combined with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, employment counseling, housing opportunities, and other resilience-building efforts, recovery is much more likely to be sustained.
No matter your financial situation, there are still recovery opportunities available to you and your family. We accept most PPO insurance and private forms of payment. And we will communicate with your insurance provider on your behalf. Unsure of your options? Just call us at 855-458-0050 and let’s get started, together.
How to Get Help
Imagine walking into a supportive, stigma-free space and connecting with people who truly care about you and your well-being. At Resurgence Behavioral Health, you will feel respected from the moment you walk through the door. With beautiful, residential locations in Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, and Fullerton Hills, as well as a state-of-the-art Outpatient Campus, your recovery is closer than you think.
We can provide Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, prescriptions, housing resources, 12-Step programs, peer support, counseling, and other flexible strategies to help you achieve your recovery dreams. At Resurgence Behavioral Health you can rebuild your life. Call us today at 855-458-0050 and experience a new you.