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The Misunderstanding of Alcoholism and Homelessness

The average person might find alcoholism and homelessness difficult to understand. A large percentage of the general population assumes all homeless individuals are alcoholics or addicts, and while there is some truth to this belief, it’s not nearly as bad as they think.

For example, some of the latest statistics show that roughly 60 percent of homeless individuals have some form of addiction. A lot of people who’re homeless ended up losing their home because they developed an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

However, the majority of homeless individuals actually developed a problem with substance abuse as a result of being homeless; the addiction is used as a means to cope with the undesirable circumstances.

A Glimpse into Homelessness Statistics

The reality is that there are a massive number of individuals in the United States who’re living on the streets. The main reason why it’s incredibly difficult to pinpoint the exact number is because these individuals obviously don’t make it very easy to contact them.

It’s not like they have an address that can receive mail. According to some new statistics, roughly 43 percent of homeless individuals have some form of disability.

These disabilities can include alcohol and drug problems. Accurate or not, the latest stats say there are at least 2 million homeless individuals living in the United States.

What You Should Know About Alcoholism and Homelessness

The average person might not know that there are different types of homeless individuals. One of the most common types is the homeless alcoholic. Unfortunately, this type is very misunderstood.

Alcohol is known to reduce a person’s natural inhibitions, which is why many homeless individuals exhibit unpredictable and erratic behavior.

When a person harbors emotions, drinking can quickly bring these emotions to the surface. Since most homeless people struggle with anger issues, they frequently become violent while drinking.

Why They’re Misunderstood

After considering how violent homeless people can get while drinking, it’s easy to see why they’re misunderstood; people are scared to get close, which means no communication.

The fact that most homeless individuals are dishonest and deceptive about their condition makes them even more misunderstood. Alcoholics are known to take dishonesty to the extreme. When you consider all of these issues, it’s no wonder why the homeless are misunderstood.

They’ve Lost Everything

In many cases, a homeless alcoholic has lost everything. Initially, they might lose their job. Next, they lose their family. After losing their family, they lose their home and possessions.

A profound change occurs in the mind and soul when a person loses everything. Some commit suicide while others develop a heavy drinking problem.

The bottom line here is that alcoholism and homelessness are regularly misunderstood. A lot more work needs to be done to help these individuals, and one of the best ways to get started is inpatient care.

The success rate of inpatient addiction treatment is quite high, and there are several benefits of choosing residential treatment. Healthy food to eat, structure, professional help and positive influences are just a few of the benefits of seeking inpatient addiction treatment. As a society, we need to take a deeper look into the issue of alcoholism and homelessness and try to understand that this is truly a desperate situation for the person involved.

22 Comments

  • Jonathan

    I understand the fact that the homeless need help but I don’t agree with them just being given help. I believe they have to earn it.
    Probably only a very little few out of those 2 million homeless people had really bad luck and wound up on the street.
    Yes people do lose their jobs at times but it is up to them to find another job. The fact that there is such a high unemployment rate in the United States doesn’t have a thing to do with the unavailibility of job offerings, it has to do with the lack of the willingness to work. A fast food or janitor job is “below them”, so they wind up on the street due to no job. There is also Uber nowadays where all you need is a clean background and a car and you have a job.
    I do agree that they should be offered the oportunity to go clean but not given it. I believe that they should work for it like everyone else.

  • Amanda

    How interesting. I have to be honest that a lot of what this article said I had thought or had thoughts of in the past. Though, per this article, 60 percent of homeless people have addiction, not all are homeless because of the addiction. I can only imagine the suffering and pain that comes along with losing your family, friends, possessions and home. I think if people, including myself, had a better understanding of what was occurring for homeless people then we may be able to better help people who are truly in need.

  • Walter

    I have to say that I feel that this is an accurate article. I have worked in a busy downtown, where there were always problems in the building I was in with homeless people coming in and damaging property, stealing, or just in general making it a not good environment to work in, but what I did not always see was that people who are homeless have a massive problem that they are trying to solve. The information in this article helped to put some of this into perspective, and has gotten me to see that there are many more ways that we could reach out to help those people, whether it be through church based organizations, or just better rehabilitation to help give them the valuable tools that they need to get back onto their feet and get producing in the society again. Come to think of it, most of the homeless or needy that I have ever actually taken the time to speak to have all expressed that they used to work and be productive members of society.

    I think that this is important to think with when we are looking at this as a problem that most every city in the country is faced with.

  • Diane C

    This is such a sad situation. There are so many people out there in this situation because that had so many bad things happen to them in their life that they couldn’t cope with and once the downward spiral began, then it’s very hard for them to turn things around on their own. This is when they really need someone in their life to get them into this type of facility before they end up out on the street.

  • Gina M

    It’s a mistake to just assume that all those people on the streets are alcoholics, and that their drinking is what got them there, therefore they “deserve it”. Most likely they went through a series of terrible events, lost everything and they turned to alcohol. It’s a vicious cycle but with help they can get their lives back. It’s everybody’s best interest!

  • brian ski

    Thank you for this, it was well written. Its so easy to see that drunk sleeping on the sidewalk and not care. this article but a humid/compassionate side to that situation.

  • Diamond Taylor

    Wow the points this article makes are very accurate . I myself have been addicted to alcohol which led to homelessness and it is very true how we are mislead . If we could understand they need more HELP and treatment instead of being judged im sure it would help a lot. great article . Will be showing this to a few family members and friends .

  • Derika May

    Good article. The best way to deal with something is to not view it as a problem, but as a symptom of a problem. Making people aware of the misunderstanding between alcohol addiction and homeless is the first step towards identifying the problem via the symptoms.

  • Atrise

    This was an eye-opening article. Very insightful. Thank you

  • Mikaela

    A fascinating article on alcoholism’s involvement in homelessness.

  • Rachel

    This is a really insightful and considerate article on the difficulties faced by homeless people. Making sure that everyone has a system of support around them that allows them to get they help they need is the first step in alleviating this problem.

  • Mike

    I agree. Most people dont realize when you BECOME homeless you become hopeless thus thet turn to alcohol and drugs.

  • homeless one

    i don’t agree with this “misunderstood” bit. When you dig deep enough into the person’s past and the decisions and corresponding actions (s)he’s taken, then it is clear WHY (s)he ended up homeless and attached to some vice to “cope with it”. Start with the individual h(im/er)-self, then branch off to the very people their decisions affected (good, bad, or indifferent). Having lived among the homeless for the past 3 years, their stories form patterns of behavior and their corresponding actions. Once their actions up to the present has been mapped out and analyzed, then it becomes clear how they got “that way” in the present. By then, it’s clear, with further searching, what they must do. Jesus, The Christ, the most perfect person who lives, gave the command that begins the process of “recovery”. The command is: REPENT.

  • Angie

    This is an eye opening article. We all know that the homeless have faced many troubles, but it is very educating to see that the homeless might have become that way because of addiction, but that most have probably turned to addiction because of their current condition in life. It is a tough spot to be in, and very lonely as no one really wants to go have a good chat with an alcoholic homeless person, but that is probably exactly what they need. I do think that there should continue to be homeless shelters that offer a bed and meals, they should also probably include drug rehab programs specifically for the homeless, or something to help them find the right path and contribute to society again.

  • Gottin

    Self-medication with alcohol is probably more prevalent than most people will admit. This is a slippery slope. When does one drink too many end up as an addiction? I wonder what the homeless alcoholic might tell us.

  • Judy Workman

    That’s sad that so many people have to go through that. I believe that homeless people should try to get help. Once they end up homeless they need to start over again if they are able bodied. People that can help should help others get started on the right path to recovery.

  • Hank

    I’ve experienced the ramifications of this first hand. My Brother is a homeless due to his alcoholism. He chooses to live this way. Our family has helped him countless times but he always ends up back on the streets after just a few months. He refuses treatment. I wish there was some way we could force him to get the help he needs.

  • razhi

    Many times it’s the street life which makes them wanna forget their troubles and drinking helps relieve them. If others lost their families and homes I am sure they would most likely turn to drugs or alcohol relief too!
    Don’t judge them please…. rehab may help them as long as it helps them recover their dignity
    But some homeless are near hopeless. I know because I have spent many years volunteering

  • Peter

    I realize how easy it is to be living on the streets, I’ve been there and I am so thankful that I did not turn to alcohol.

  • Frank G

    We all need to take better care of one another. Don’t pretend to be a Christian if you don’t believe in helping your fellow man when they need it most.

  • Zsofia H

    Not every homeless people is alcoholic we shouldn`t think that it depends on how they became homeless. Some people went thru terrible things, lost everything feel so hopeless and that is the reason they turn to alcohol. With help they can get their life back.

  • Mary King

    We had my ex in a treatment center and he left after 2 months. He put himself back in a week later but walked again after 2 weeks. He is a full blown alcoholic & lies to cover up any truths. His girlfriend, grown children & mom are so emotionally spent. He is now living in his van doing odd jobs & refusing to keep in touch .”Flying under the radar” he says probably to avoid any responsibility of bills. He says he doesn’t need help but he is giving up everything including his family…we believe it has greatly affected his mental stability. It’s a slow suicide and it’s devastating to watch.We have done everything. Now all we can do is pray. 🙁

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