The Harsh Reality
During the years of our current "Great Recession" the ranks of the U.S. homeless population has grown substantially. Though drugs and alcohol abuse are common contributing factors, in creating homelessness, once on the streets the more pressings issues of survival dominate. Acquiring food and shelter usually restrict a person's ability to purchase mood-altering substances. Unless a homeless abuser is guided into a rehab center, quitting cold turkey becomes their only real option. On the street or in back alleys there will be times when both addicts and non-users will participate in sharing a bottle or drug to fit in better with an established homeless crowd. This is just one of the survival techniques that a person learns to be able to make it through another day. The danger of binge using/abusing for a homeless person is a scary reality. If a person comes upon a bit of cash and seeks relief from their condition through over consuming all the risks of homeless exposure multiply immensely. The Extent of the Homeless Problem
The United States Conference of Mayor's report from 2009, http://www.usmayors.org/pressreleases/uploads/USCMHungercompleteWEB2009.pdf
, indicates that the increase in demand for homeless services leaped 26 percent from the previous year and accounted for the highest increase since 1991. The consequence of homelessness is a jarring experience. Most have been forced into their predicament as a result of loss of income or the foreclosure of their home. Exposure to the elements of Nature is just a part of what they face. They also are subject to discrimination and humiliation which can drive a person into a dark depression. Homeless families are most at risk here if their Head of Household gets dragged down, into despondency. The iconic image of a drunk or drugged out panhandler is more the exception than the rule when considering the estimated 3.5 million homeless in America today. With Compassion there is Hope
The National Coalition for the Homeless, http://www.nationalhomeless.org, is a informative and proactive site on the behalf of street people. There are many shelters that house people who have no other roof to sit under. All of those temporary homes have strict rules restricting alcohol and drug use. Substance use follows many into homelessness but homelessness in itself does not create abusers at any higher rate than for the rest of us. If anything being alone on the streets can force the person to quit. The harsh reality of street life can be a great motivating factor for a person to stop and consider a rehab program to end their cycle of failure. Compassion, is the key for giving aid, to these fellow Americans.