Is There Enough Help Available For Homeless Drug AddictsWithout wanting to sound too dreary, homelessness is something most people see a side of every day. You might see strangers on street corners, or pushing carts full of belongings, or even sitting next to us on the bus home. All of them share one very heartbreaking circumstance, but all of them are separated by a million different reasons why they ended up there. While it may not seem like it sometimes, there are many organizations out there that provide help for the homeless. Shelters, food kitchens, and others seek to make life a little brighter for those who have seen hard times, but what about the homeless that have serious addictions? Is there enough help for them?

From a statistical point of view, it is predicted that 38% of the homeless abuse alcohol and 26% abuse other drugs. This prediction does not take into account the reasons behind the circumstances of their homelessness, but it should not immediately be assumed that the alcohol or drugs are actually the root cause. There is always the possibility that alcohol and drugs are simply used to cope with their circumstances, and this method of coping is what leads them to an addiction. Often, in the cases of homeless people with addictions, drug dealers will manipulate and abuse them because they pose no threat and no sympathy from others. This is where the need for help with a drug addiction comes into play.

Breaking an addiction is difficult for anyone, regardless of their place in society. For the homeless, however, many are estranged from their families and have no support or anyone to keep them accountable. It should also be noted that for this reason, many homeless people find it unimportant to give up an addiction while still on the streets, especially when drugs are so widely used. Even if a homeless person were able to find a program to try and stick to, many focus on abstinence only methods. These methods are less effective than harm-reduction strategies and do not take into account the possibility of a relapse.

The other side of the addiction to drugs may fall upon the shoulders of mental illness, another cause of homelessness for many. By using drugs as a form of self-medication, homeless people with a mental illness pose a threat to themselves and others and often find themselves in jail, or in the emergency room. Often, they cycle through one to another over and over again. Sadly, these people are often unable to find help from others because many programs for homeless people with mental illnesses do not accept people with substance abuse disorders, and many programs for homeless substance abusers do not treat people with mental illnesses.

Before you give up on the topic all together, there is hope. There are ministries like Light of Life Rescue Mission which offer faith-based, holistic programs that empower addicted and abused individuals to strive for healthy, drug-free lifestyles. Non-profit organizations like these offer what many other programs can’t: free help. Between July 2008 and June 2009, Light of Life was able to help 109 different homeless people with their addictions. With more programs like this, the issue of eradicating homeless addiction or even homelessness in general could start to see some real progress.

In summary, homelessness is a complex and exhausted issue that continues from year to year for numerous reasons. Some homeless people are in their position because of an addiction, and they need help just as much as anyone else with the same problem. While there are some organizations and treatment centers that offer this help, they are not plentiful, and often, they do not have the necessary help for the homeless who have mental illnesses on top of their addiction. While America may have a small and heartfelt start to solving this problem, there really doesn’t appear to be enough help for those who need it most.

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