• Emily Johnson

Epidemics of homelessness, substance abuse, and mental illness on the rise

Homelessness, drug use, and mental illness are bigger problems than perhaps some people like to think. In 2018, of every 10,000 people in America, 17 experienced homelessness on a single night, according to endhomelessness.org. Among those, 20 percent were children, 71 percent were over the age of 24, and nine percent were between the ages of 18 and 24. This epidemic gets worse every year, more of the nation's population going to the streets and using drugs.

In addition, there is a connection between homelessness and drug addiction. The end result of homelessness is more than likely to be substance abuse, and this usually contributes to being homeless. Often times, addiction can contribute to homelessness. The National Coalition has recorded that 38 percent are alcohol-dependent, while 28 percent are dependent on other harmful chemicals and substances.

The very difficult conditions homeless people have to go through cause chronic mental illness. Living on the street, having to find food, struggling with poor health, and constantly being away from loved ones can affect these people very harshly.

Individuals struggling with these issues may additionally develop psychiatric conditions such as bipolar disorder, paranoia, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder, and severe anxiety. This is due to violence individuals face on the streets, starvation, or lack of shelter and love.

Many young adults and children face homelessness. Factors contributing to the homeless of youth are growing up in a homeless family, genetics of substance abuse, family abuse, maladaptive (not providing adequate or appropriate adjustment to the environment or situation) coping mechanisms to stress, co-occurring disorders, early use of drugs, physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse, and running away from home.

Homeless man sleeping on a public bench