Los Angeles is second to New York City in the number of homeless there are in the city. Perhaps it goes without saying that there is a strong relationship between homelessness and addiction. Of course, homelessness can present many health risks, including being vulnerable to pregnancy, disease, and suicide.
Another consequence to being homeless is the presence of drugs, and because of frequent emotional challenges, particularly if a mental illness is present, drugs become an attractive choice as a way to self-medicate and ease the painful stress of life’s instability. The National Coalition for the Homeless indicates that those who are homeless suffer from extreme forms of anxiety and depression, along with low self-esteem. In fact, they found that the rates of major depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder to be three times higher among the homeless. Sadly, very few homeless individuals have access to mental health services. And as a result, some may turn to drugs and drinking as a way to escape the challenges of their lives. Research has shown that the use of drugs and alcohol increases among those whose living situations become more and more stressful and unstable. Homeless men and women are more likely to use marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine.
It might go without saying, but being homeless can be a very difficult life. And for this reason, the highs that come with drinking and drug use become more and more attractive. Homeless men and women are prone to suicide attempts and self-harming behavior, such as cutting their wrists, burning the skin, and self-tattooing. Out of desperation to survive, those who are homeless will commit crimes such as theft, assault, and trespassing. Many have needed to break into abandoned buildings in order to find a place to sleep and/or live temporarily. Along these lines, some men and women will also resort to prostitution in order to survive. Within the homeless community, this is known as survival sex, where intercourse is exchanged for money, shelter, and/or food.
Yet, if a homeless man or woman in Los Angeles can find access to public services, such as a shelter, and he or she is willing to go begin a detox process, then it may be possible to find sober living . Typically, however, public services will first tend to the immediate needs of a homeless person, such as shelter, food, and medical attention. And there are programs such as the Los Angeles Homeless Resource, which provides a long list of information on medical, psychological, addiction, and housing resources. If a man or woman in LA wanted to get off the streets and find a way to detox, it’s possible.
Once a recovering addict were done with drug treatment, he or she could either utilize the treatment center in which they received medical detox, or transition to a sober living home. In fact, a recent study done by the NIH revealed that those who transition from an in-patient treatment center directly back to their lives are much more likely to experience relapse. This might be especially true for those who were homeless before getting sober. Once done with treatment, a person might be vulnerable to returning to homelessness.
However, if he or she could stay in a sober living environment, it might prove to be particularly healing.
The NIH study found that a sober living home serves as a bridge from total immersion in treatment to one’s life, which is often an unsupported lifestyle with many reminders of an old life. Furthermore, in 2010, the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment published the results of an exhaustive study on former residents of sober living environments. Here, the research also found that those recovering individuals who entered into sober living after rehabilitative treatment were significantly less likely to experience relapse, arrest, and homelessness. The most crucial element to their sobriety was the community of support found at sober living homes.
If funding were available and a recovering addict were able to find their way to a sober living home, residing there for the length of their initial sobriety might not only keep them off the streets, but also sober. With the right amount of support, the right environment, and the right amount of willingness to face and overcome obstacles, achieving a sober life is possible.
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