The reasons that people are homeless are as varied as the people themselves. Having an enormous financial loss due to loss of employment or astronomical medical bills for a dying spouse; having a mental illness; having been thrown out of their homes; having a drug or alcohol addiction; or any combination of these conditions have led to homelessness for millions of Americans.
While addiction does not necessarily lead to homelessness, homelessness and addiction are related. Many homeless individuals end up addicted to alcohol in order to deal with the stress of living on the streets, to medicate a mental illness, or because their addiction led to their homelessness to begin with.
Why Homeless People Abuse Alcohol
Alcohol use is encouraged in our country. Many people drink to overcome their inhibitions, become more socially entertaining, to relieve stress, or alter their present reality. Thus, drinking alcohol may be a way for homeless people to cope with the stress, danger, loneliness and physical discomfort they experience on a daily basis. Also, if an individual’s mental illness led to him becoming homeless, he may self-medicate the painful symptoms of his disease with alcohol abuse. Furthermore, because addiction can lead to homelessness, some homeless individuals may already be addicts once they become homeless, and continue to abuse alcohol while living on the streets.
Alcohol Side Effects
There are numerous side effects to alcohol consumption that affect every part of your body, including the following:
- A relaxing effect
- Reduced tension
- Lowered inhibitions
- Poor concentration
- Slow reflexes
- Slow reaction time
- Reduced coordination
- Slower brain activity
- Sensations and perceptions that are less clear
- Slurred speech
- Altered emotions
- Poor vision
- Sleepiness and disruption of sleeping patterns
- Increased urine production
- More blood flow to skin surface
- Lower core body temperature
- Uncontrolled urination
- Uncontrolled defecation
- Breathing difficulties
- Passing out
- Alcohol poisoning
- Possible death
The long-term effects of alcohol also harm every part of your body and may include the following:
- Disrupts normal brain development
- Liver damage and cirrhosis of the liver
- Brain cells die, decreasing brain mass
- Stomach and intestinal ulcers and destroyed organs
- Blood pressure increases, causing heart disease, heart attack, or stroke
- Male sperm production decreases
- Lower levels of iron and vitamin B, causing anemia
In addition, consuming alcohol can lead to alcohol addiction, depending on the amount of alcohol consumed and how long you have been drinking.
Alcohol and Homelessness
Although obtaining an accurate, recent count is difficult, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that 38% of homeless people are dependent on alcohol and 26% abused other drugs.
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, breaking an addiction is especially difficult for substance abusers that are homeless. They are not has motivated or encouraged to stop, and their survival is a higher priority for them than drug counseling. Many homeless people have also become estranged from their families and friends; without a social support network, recovering from a substance addiction is very difficult.
Get Help for Alcohol Addiction and Homelessness
There is a life without alcohol and we can help you rediscover it. Please call our toll-free helpline today. We can help answer any questions you have about addiction and the healing process. We can also explore your options, find out about your insurance coverage, and provide insights into programs and services. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about alcohol abuse treatment.