What You Need To Know About Homelessness and Addiction

People often assume that homeless people are always homeless and always chemically dependant on some kind of addictive substance. There’s a deep stigma around being homeless. But the truth is that people are usually only homeless for a period of time and that the homeless community ebbs and flows with different people all the time. It is also not true that everyone who is homeless is an addict, however it is true that someone who is homeless is more likely to develop a drug or alcohol addiction than someone who is not homeless. Here are some facts you should know about the connection between homelessness and addiction.


  • About ⅓ of people who are homeless suffer from a chemical dependency on alcohol and about ¼ of the homeless population are addicted to some type of drug other than alcohol.
  • Older adults who are homeless are more likely to be alcoholics
  • Young adults, and teenagers who are homeless are more likely to be addicted to drugs than alcohol
  • Substance abuse is a major factor contributing to the rise of homelessness in the United States.
  • Alcohol and drug addiction are ways people distract or numb themselves from internal pain, it is no different for someone who is homeless.
  • The homeless community is at higher risk for mental health disorder. After all, mental health disorders are often triggered by trauma like homelessness.


Homeless people, like everyone, need treatment for their addiction, but unfortunately only about ¼ of those suffering from a chemical dependency in the community will get the medically supervised alcohol detox and drug rehabilitation. South Florida, as with the rest of the United States, has a substantial homeless population in need of treatment for substance addiction but also in need of mental health rehab. Help can often be found through government services. Contact your local health department to learn more.


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