By some estimates, between one fourth and one third of all homeless persons suffer from drug or alcohol problems. Drugs may be the cause of or the result of homelessness, but the connection between homelessness and substance abuse is beyond question. If someone close to you has suffered from drug addiction and has taken to the streets, that person’s long-term prognosis will not be good, but you will have options to help that person and to recover him from a life of harm and decay.
Helping a Homeless Loved One
Your initial reaction when you discover that someone you love has become homeless will likely be akin to panicking. You will feel a need to head out into whatever streets have claimed your loved one to bring him or her back to your abode. Panic reactions are normal, but they may not be the best option. Your ability to help a person that you care about will be enhanced if you first calm yourself down and force yourself to move deliberately and with proper planning and strategy. Rescuing your loved one with no consideration of how to address his or her addiction problems is, at best, a temporary solution. Before long, if untreated, your loved one’s addictions will push him or her back to the street.
When you have calmed yourself and recouped your perspective, do some research into homeless shelters and addiction recovery programs that are designed to help homeless persons. A day or two of research will show you the available options, and you can choose the best option for the person you are trying to help. If you then re-connect with that person, you can take him or her directly to the shelter or center, where treatment for both the homeless problem and the drug addiction can begin.
Addiction and Homelessness
Many addicts who have lapsed into homelessness will sense that they have hit “rock bottom”, and that sensation may lead to a feeling of desperation that can drive a homeless person to do whatever is necessary to survive. Because of this, a homeless person might need to address legal problems in addition to his or her drug addiction. Be prepared to retain an attorney who can be your loved one’s advocate if legal problems do threaten to interfere with his or her recovery.
Even under the best circumstances, recovering from drug addiction can be a years-long process that requires commitment from both the addict and from his support community. When an addict has fallen into homelessness, the challenges will inevitably be greater. A homeless addict will need to restart his finances, find a place to live after he is out of any rehab facilities, and start a program of counseling to address his addiction and any psychological issues that can threaten his stability. You will best be able to help him by supporting and encouraging him in these endeavors and by making sure that he is adhering to whatever plans or structures you helped him to put in place. Ultimately, the homeless drug addict will need to resolve to help himself. Your role is to keep your loved one on a path that helps him do that.
Please call the Sustain Recovery Services at (949) 407-9052 for more information on how you can help a loved one in your life who has become homeless, and for assistance in creating a recovery program that is specific to his or her situation.