Unfortunately, there’s a strong link between addiction and homelessness, especially in big cities. For example, homelessness in Asheville, N.C. has been a huge problem over the last few years, causing the city to address this issue in a few major ways. However, North Carolina isn’t the only city struggling with homelessness across the United States. Many states, especially those with big cities and high rent have record homelessness numbers when compared to the last decade. In this article, we’ll look at how the increasing homeless population is linked to the use of drugs and how the two affect each other on a regular basis. 

Statistics: Homelessness in Asheville, N.C. 

In January of 2022, the city of Asheville addressed its homelessness problem by citing a few key issues. The city stated that they were not only responding daily to homelessness issues but trying to figure out long-term solutions to address the homelessness issues around town. The city of Asheville doesn’t just want to manage their homelessness problem, they want to end it entirely. However, this is a large undertaking that will take years to accomplish. At the time of this statement, there were 527 people living unsheltered in Asheville. 

They also go on to explain that homeless people are not the problem, but homelessness is, elaborating that it’s an equity and housing problem that they can work on fixing. This is a breath of fresh air, as many cities often blame the people for the problem instead of the infrastructure that has caused it. When homeless people are blamed, the city often attempts methods of getting rid of them, like installing anti-homeless architecture (such as a bar in the middle of a bench, preventing someone from laying on it). Unfortunately, these anti-homeless initiatives don’t do anything but make homeless people more stressed out, often leading to higher rates of drug use and suicide. 

How Does Drug Addiction Cause Homelessness

Drug addiction has tons of consequences, and they aren’t just limited to one’s health. Using drugs on a regular basis causes addiction, making people feel like they can’t get through the day without using their drug of choice. Because of this, people often go to extreme lengths to get their fix, using too much money or money that was earmarked for something else, like rent. When drug addicts make poor decisions, they can end up homeless as a result of not paying rent or breaking the law inside their homes. 

It’s important to remember that drug addiction is not a choice, and we shouldn’t blame those who end up homeless as a result. These people don’t need jail time, they need assistance getting sober so they can get back on their feet. Unfortunately, being homeless can make it much harder to receive treatment, meaning homeless addicts are much less likely to get the help they need and much more likely to overdose as a result. 

How Does Homelessness Cause Drug Addiction? 

Homelessness is also known to cause drug addiction, as it’s a traumatic event in one’s life that they weren’t prepared for. Even if someone never used drugs before becoming homeless, this trauma might lead them down a bad road. Experienced trauma increases the risk of drug addiction, especially in people who don’t have healthy coping mechanisms or people with mental health disorders. 

The same is true for recovering addicts or those who have been sober for years. A triggering event, like becoming homeless might be enough to send them over the edge, causing relapse. Unfortunately, without proper homelessness infrastructure in place and programs that help homeless people get clean, it can be very difficult to stop using drugs when you feel like you’re at such a low point in your life. Oftentimes, it feels impossible for homeless people to find a permanent place to live. Hopefully, with Asheville’s new initiatives, this won’t be as difficult. 

Treating Addiction in Homeless People

Unfortunately, there aren’t many programs in place to help homeless people get clean. Many cities ignore the homeless population. This inhumane behavior on behalf of town officials is cruel, as many people are just a few paychecks away from being homeless themselves. However, some cities and towns offer programs that help homeless people find jobs and get back on their feet. Some rehabilitation centers also offer scholarships or funding for those who can’t afford to pay. These types of programs can really help homeless people get the treatment that they need without having to shell out too much money. 

Treating addiction is also a great place to start when it comes to helping people become “un-homeless”. By treating addiction and the root of the issue, it may be easier for homeless people to find jobs and get back on their feet. However, the best solution comes from treating both problems in tandem, homelessness and addiction. Because if you just treat addiction and send someone back out onto the street, they’re much more likely to relapse. If you just treat homelessness, the addiction might put them back out on the street if the solution doesn’t take. 

Unfortunately, it’s a very fickle situation that can easily result in overdose or suicide if not handled with care. Being homeless is incredibly stressful and traumatic, and drugs or alcohol may feel like the only way for these people to cope. Thankfully, there are some programs out there that can help them through it, and with the city of Asheville beginning to take things more seriously, maybe the homelessness problem will be a thing of the past. 

Seek Treatment for Drug Addiction

If someone you know is struggling with homelessness in Asheville, N.C., and drug addiction, it’s time to seek help. We offer partial hospitalization, outpatient, and detox referral treatment programs.  To learn more about these programs and how we can help homeless addicts get the treatment they need, give us a call today. We’re eager to answer any questions you may have and help you on your road to recovery. 

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