The Relationship Between Homelessness and Cocaine Addiction

Homelessness and cocaine addiction are two separate issues that can complicate and aggravate each other. A third problem, mental illness, is sometimes part of the complex as well. When two or three of these problems interact, it can be difficult to tell which problem is the cause and which is the result.

Cocaine Addiction Causing Homelessness

In some cases, homelessness may be partly caused or perpetuated by cocaine addiction. Like other addictions, the need for cocaine can consume so much of the user’s energy and attention that other aspects of life suffer or even crumble.

Jobs can be lost and savings spent in order to maintain the cocaine habit. The money needed to make home payments may be used for drugs, eventually leading to homelessness.

Some people are able to stay in their homes because they are part of a strong family unit. The erratic and destructive behavior common among cocaine addicts, however, may sever even the strongest of familial bonds, leaving addicts with nowhere to turn.

Homelessness Causing Cocaine Addiction

Peer influence can be a pivotal factor that introduces people to dangerous practices such as cocaine use. Since drug use is more prevalent among the homeless population, peer pressure to use drugs can increase for a person who has become homeless.

The stresses of homeless life can also make someone look for any kind of available relief. Cocaine can be used as a temporary escape from the despair and depression associated with homeless life.

Sometimes people who have a history of cocaine use are actually able to reduce their cocaine use while homeless. They may simply not be able to collect as much money to buy drugs as they were able to do before. Or they may enter into addiction treatment and be able to make progress in recovery despite remaining homeless.

Mental Illness and Addiction

A cause that sometimes lies behind both homelessness and drug addiction is mental illness. Homelessness can make treatment for mental illness more difficult to obtain. And conversely, mental illness, left untreated, can make it impossible to maintain a home. In either case, substance addiction may develop from an attempt to self-medicate the symptoms of mental illness.

Homeless people with mental illnesses, however, may use cocaine to self-medicate less often than other drugs. A 1997 study in the journal Psychiatric Services found 21% of the 201 people in the study group suffered from a mental illness. Cocaine use among that group turned out to be much less common than among those with no mental illness.

Overcoming Homelessness and Drug Addiction

Whatever the pattern of interaction that exists between homelessness, cocaine use and mental illness, each problem must be addressed in order for significant improvement in any area to be achieved. If you are homeless, addicted to cocaine or both, call our toll-free helpline to learn more about options for cocaine treatment and ending homelessness. Admissions counselors are available 24 hours a day to take your call.

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