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If you haven’t read our first installment on How to Help Homeless People you missed:

  • Should You Give Money to the Homeless?
  • How to Make Helpful Homeless Kits
  • Insight from an Ex-Homeless Person and Those Who Have Worked in Shelters
  • How Do People Become Homeless?
  • Why Many Homeless People Don’t Want to Go to Shelters
  • Five Finger Death Punch’s Tribute to Homeless Veterans

You can read either of these articles in any order. To get the full benefit of our How to Help the Homeless installments, make sure you read both!

Is Drug Abuse Common Among Homeless People?

Is Drug Abuse Common Among Homeless People? The question of the hour: are the homeless woefully addicted to drugs? Yes, and no- just as it is with non-homeless people. According to National Homelessness in 2003 the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimated 38% of of homeless people had alcohol substance use disorders, while 26% abused other addictive substances. Alcohol tends to be more prevalent in older homeless people- drug addiction appears heightened for the younger homeless population.

As you may imagine, collecting solid data from the homeless proves difficult; transience plays an integral role in misrepresenting data.

What you may not be aware of is most homeless people become addicted to drugs after being homeless. It’s true, many become homeless as a result from chronic substance use disorders– but this is not the only reason as most purport.

Why Do Homeless People Drink and Do Drugs?

The same reason anyone else does drugs: to cope with overbearing circumstances. Psychological trauma and untreated mental conditions catalyze, and perpetuate, chronic addiction among homeless people. Self medication is one of the principal causes of drug use on the streets. As a result, overdose deaths have skyrocketed to the number one cause of death for homeless people. Because of limited funds, the homeless are constantly at the mercy of cheap, synthetic addictive substances. Common culprits include K2 (Spice- or synthetic marijuana), flakka, tar heroin, and crack cocaine, among others. Flakka can be bought for as little as $3-$5 dollars. Exactly one year ago Broward County launched a fervent “anti-flakka” program specifically aimed at the homeless population because they are disproportionately addicted to flakka.

Of course, heroin is king of overdoses, and the homeless are no exception in using the drug. Addiction changes the chemistry of the brain, requiring the presence of the substance in question to allow normal functionality. Experimental substance abuse quickly transmutes into addiction. You don’t have to take my word for it, take a moment to read up on the studies surrounding substance use disorders.

What does addiction do to the brain? What Does Alcohol Do To Your Brain?

Addiction: The Things Most People Get Wrong

10 Things That Make You Sound Dumb When You Talk About Addiction

The same goes for alcohol. Stereotype of the “drunk bum” isn’t far from the truth in some cases, yet instead as labeling homeless people as “bums,” why not acknowledge their sickness? When we begin to dehumanize our own people we lose sight of fostering community. Devaluing community morality is among the key factors depreciating neighborhoods economically, literary, and social cohesion. When communities are active members of outreach everyone benefits.

Homelessness does not occur in a vacuum- it affects all of us. If you must search to alight empathy, imagine homeless people you see everyday- or otherwise- as part of your family; your sister, your mother, your son, the beloved uncle, those titles remain true to each and every one of the homeless.

A kind word goes a long way. You are not obligated to give money or resources, sometimes acknowledgement is all someone needs in moments of desperation. Do not continue to close your eyes to those suffering right in front of you.

Common Mental Illnesses Among the Homeless

“Are the Homeless Crazy?” One of Jonathan Kozol’s influential works in the realm of understanding our nation’s homeless epidemic, Kozol points to other factors of homelessness: foreclosure, untreated mental health diseases, and lack of community and family support. National Homeless reports 20%-25% of the homeless population suffer from severe mental illnesses- often leading to addiction to drugs and alcohol, as a means of self medication, without the guidance and treatment of a medical professional. Reports from National Homeless state those with mental health conditions are more likely to become homeless. Addiction is typically a co-occurring disorder with the following conditions.

What does addiction do to the brain? There are several common mental illnesses which remain untreated on the streets:

  • Bipolar Disorder/Manic Depressive Disorder
  • Chronic Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder OCD
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: PTSD, common among veterans

The absence of community treatment services exacerbate mental illness both on the streets and families who cannot afford private services.

“On any given night there are 1,000 to 1,200 people sleeping on the streets. Half of them are deinstitutionalized mentally ill people. It’s like a mental ward on the streets.”

Common Street Drugs Abused by the Homeless

  • Spice/K2
  • Crack Cocaine
  • Tar Heroin
  • Prescription Medications
  • Over the Counter Medicines
  • Meth

The Secret Overdoses of Synthetic Marijuana, Spice, K2, Synthetic Cannabis, and Synthetic Weed

“Not only is synthetic marijuana unregulated, most of the brands (if not all) you find at your local stores are made by chemists ( are they really?) who ‘douse chemicals onto plant matter, could be weeds from a backyard’ as quoted from NHPR, and then expect you to ingest the substance. And many people do!

In the K2 and Spice business the factors of chemical instability and potency levels vary from package to package. Each pack of synthetic marijuana has the potential of secreting a dangerous dose of chemicals- which may result in overdose or bouts of psychosis”

Read the full article: The Little Known Truths About Spice, K2, and Synthetic Marijuana

Spice Addiction Treatment

Harbor Village offer the entire spectrum of spice addiction treatment. If you have any questions, please contact us directly. Here’s a rundown on all the aspects of treatment for K2 addiction:

Detox and Withdrawal From K2/Spice

Symptoms of K2/Spice Addiction

The Effects of K2/Spice Abuse

Toxicity and Overdose of K2/Spice

Myth: Homeless People Don’t Want to Work

Frequently in my social groups my loved ones badger, “They can just get jobs.” While this may be true in some cases, the application process for the homeless is sometimes impossible. Without a mailing address, many businesses will not consider hiring homeless people. Moreover, business interviews are stained with lack of hygiene and worn clothes. Some businesses will flat out refuse to hire the homeless. Some that do exploit their homeless workers and give them menial wages under-the-table.

Here are a few resources to address those problems head-on:

Homeless People Can Get a Mailing Address with the United States Postal Service

Contact the USPS for more information.

Free Showers for the Homeless

Palm Beach County launched a new service, Live Fresh, for homeless people to take showers and use private bathrooms. Toiletries and hygiene products are available through the service free of charge!

List of Businesses Working with the Homeless

The Salvation Army

The company offers emergency assistance, rehabilitation, family counseling, and a slew of other services for the homeless population.

The Empowerment Plan

Chrysalis: Changing Lives Through Jobs

Sun Cedar

Hires people who are considered “unhireable.”

RedTail Coffee in Fort Collins

Currently employes a handful of homeless people.

The Jericho Project

“Astounding success rate of keeping people from returning to homelessness.”

Summit Appliance/Felix Storch Inc.

Send an email to the contact provided and explain your circumstances- directly refer to Felix Storch Inc.

Greyston Bakery

Owned by an ex-homeless person, Greyston Bakery provides job training and resources for housing.

Hire Up

National service in Canada.

Job Strategies for Homeless People

Why YOU Should Hire the Homeless

Here are a few articles from leading businesses who have hired the homeless and have great success to this day.

Fire Your Marketing Team and Hire Homeless People

How to Hire the Homeless–Without Exploiting Them

Hiring homeless workers proves to be winning strategy for Bronx manufacturer

Why Companies Don’t Hire Veterans (And What Can Vets Do About It)

Robin Williams Helped the Homeless with His Movies

Robin Williams Required Everyone Who Hired Him to Put Homeless People to Work
Robin Williams licensed under CC 2.0

“When I got Robin Williams’ rider, I was very surprised by what I found. He actually had a requirement that for every single event or film he did, the company hiring him also had to hire a certain number of homeless people and put them to work. I never watched a Robin Williams movie the same way after that.”

Treating Drug Addiction Among the Homeless

residential drug rehab for the homelessJust as residential drug rehab is instrumental- and entirely necessary- to treat chronic substance use disorders for typical drug addicts- the same is true for homeless addicts. Many private drug and alcohol treatment centers require insurance to proceed with treatment, but there are a number of government-run rehab centers which can help connect patients with insurance, or offer insurance-free treatment.

Harbor Village can help you get insurance too. Call us directly at (855)767-8285.

Why Residential Drug Treatment Is Necessary

Akin to typical drug and alcohol addiction treatment, residential drug rehab is especially important to the homeless population; inpatient treatment offers stability, secure housing for at least 30-90 days, and often refers clients to a sober living community to help people in recovery get back on their feet and live happy, productive lives. Rehabilitation can literally be the first step of overcoming homelessness.

If you or someone you love needs help beating drug or alcohol addiction call us immediately!

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Do you have anyone resources to help the homeless? If you have experiences let us know!