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Double Stigma: Homelessness And Addiction

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Should being sober be a requirement to receive help from homeless shelters and public housing programs?

We have all heard it a thousand times. The incredibly gross, misinformed comments from society about our friends without homes. Whether it’s that they are drunks, drug addicts or just not worth the time, society repeatedly passes judgement and stigma upon a part of our culture many do not want to recognize.

We all have seen the person walking down the street, downtrodden, dirty and carrying all their belongings with them. This vision represents a small percentage of the actual homeless population. What many do not realize is that a good portion of our society is one step away from being in a similar position.Image result for homeless

When we take the time to actually talk with and understand those individuals who are experiencing homelessness, we can begin to understand that many didn’t ask or expect this lifestyle. So many of those living in camps, shelters or on the streets in general, were living paycheck to paycheck and something unexpected happened. Whether they lost their job, lost housing or one of many other reasons, they have found themselves without a place to live. 

When living on the streets so to speak, it can be hard to steer clear of all the vices that are so readily available. Many just want a break from their reality and to feel good for a while. No one starts out using drugs or alcohol with the idea that they will become addicted. Many feel they can control the use of their drug of choice yet lose that control and addiction takes over. When drugs and alcohol are all around, it becomes incredibly hard to begin the road to recovery. So many of our friends without homes want to break the cycle of addiction yet can not begin to receive help because they are either under the influence or can not pass a drug test. 

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How can we expect someone to begin life of recovery when we will not offer a helping hand due to the very thing they are trying to rid themselves of?

Recently, Brian Whitney at The wrote a great article that examines several sides of this dilemma. He brings up some good points and hopefully articles like this will keep the conversation going in a positive direction about how we help our friends without homes. Click ‘Read More’ for Brian’s article.

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