Homelessness has long been a problem in the United States. In 2020, roughly 580,000 people were homeless on a single night. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), many people experiencing homelessness have high rates of mental problems and substance use disorders (SUDs).
Although even chronic SUDs are treatable, it is more difficult for those in such circumstances. Having a loved one struggling with both addiction and homelessness is heartbreaking, but you can help. Although challenging, supporting them and helping them access the care and programs they need can make all the difference.
Homelessness and Addiction
Overcoming homelessness and addiction requires support and determination.
Addiction leads to unforeseen consequences for everyone involved, from the user to their family and friends. When someone struggles with substance abuse, their relationships often suffer. They could lose their job or get in trouble with the law. All of these scenarios can contribute to homelessness.
It can work the opposite way, too. Just because someone is homeless and struggling with substance abuse does not necessarily mean their addiction led to their situation. Many people may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with their situation, making it worse. This cycle will likely continue without proper treatment.
Addiction treatment is often shared with care for mental illnesses. Many homeless individuals suffer from mental health problems, often without a diagnosis. These co-occurring disorders can worsen the symptoms of each other.
The stigma surrounding homelessness in society is still immensely wrong. Homelessness continues because these people have a greater risk of experiencing violence, trouble with the law, and victimization or poor care in emergency rooms or by police. Many facilities will not accept homeless patients, making seeking treatment feel hopeless.
Supporting a Loved One With Addiction
Supporting a loved one experiencing addiction or homelessness will be difficult, but it can take a toll when someone is struggling with both. That is no reason not to help, but it is essential to be prepared for the possibilities.
Family support plays a crucial role in mental health and substance abuse treatment. Not only are mental illnesses and substance abuse linked to genetics and environmental impacts, but the support of family can provide unmatched guidance through counseling and therapy.
As a family member or friend of someone dealing with homelessness and addiction, you must put your mental health first. It can be stressful to take care of someone who needs so much help and maybe does not want it. Putting your wellbeing first should be the priority.
Once you speak with your loved one about your concerns and desire to help, be patient. Forcing someone into treatment before they are ready can lead to poor outcomes. When they are ready, you can help them connect with the financial aid, addiction centers, resources, and services available.
Remember that it is not your job to rescue your loved one. Addiction needs to be desired by the person struggling. It is scary to see someone you care about struggle. You worry about them being on the street, getting enough food, and the possibility of an overdose, but the responsibility is not yours. You can help, but only if they are open to it.
Helping Your Loved One Find Treatment
Once you have come to terms with the reality that your loved one is struggling and your approach to helping needs to be calm, you can begin to help them help themselves.
Researching homeless shelters and recovery programs that offer specific care for those without housing is crucial. Understand the options you and your loved one have. Is there outpatient care available? Are you willing to take them in? How can you help them finance inpatient treatment? Is there public funding available?
Make sure that while offering help, you are creating boundaries and sticking with them. Perhaps you will drive them to treatment and provide their meals but will not allow them to bring anyone to your home. Discuss options with them and what you are willing to do to help.
Many drug rehabs and shelters offer special care for those struggling with substance abuse and homelessness. The waiting lists can be long, so finding group meetings and a shelter in the meantime is vital.
With a lack of insurance, finances, transportation, education, or community support, finding the right treatment and accessing it has a lot of hurdles for homeless individuals. Your help is vital in this situation.
You can do research and offer rides, but you have to discuss their options for financing with them. To overcome such struggles, it is important to seek out help from public housing services, social services, or other free or affordable options that can help.
Remaining active in your loved one’s treatment and sobriety can provide them with a great deal of support. Being involved in their care, speaking with their health care team, and supporting their journey helps them stay motivated.
Knowing they have someone there when they leave rehab and return to living in the outside world is a significant aspect of recovery. During treatment, family counseling can be a big help in setting boundaries. Figuring out how to cope with stress and face struggles together can offer a lot of peace for you both.
You Can Only Do So Much
When you have a loved one struggling with homelessness and addiction, you may feel it is your job to take care of them or even fix them. The problem with that is, it is not your responsibility.
You can do research. You can learn about addiction and how it impacts homelessness. You can even find treatment centers and offer essential care, but they need to want your help in order for it to make a difference.
If you are looking for treatment help for a homeless friend or family member, detox must come first. There are tons of detox centers across the country but finding one can be a challenge.
DetoxNearMe.com seeks to make the hunt for a detox center easier. With our site, you have access to countless detox centers in the US. Finding one for your loved one’s needs and budget is convenient, fast, and easy. Start your loved one on the path to recovery today with DetoxNearMe.com.