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ALCOHOL & DRUG DEPENDENCE


source: www.euro.who.int/HEN/Syntheses/
homeless/20050124_6


www.euro.who.int/HEN/Syntheses/
homeless/20050124_4


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alcohol & drug dependence

While rates of alcohol and drug abuse are disproportionately high among the homeless population, the increase in homelessness over the past two decades cannot be explained by addiction alone…
  • many people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs never become homeless, but people who are poor and addicted are clearly at increased risk of homelessness;


  • alcohol dependence, in fact, is common among homeless populations and many present to health services with potentially serious neurological, gastroenterological, cardiovascular or psychosocial complications;


  • research among homeless women described that the women had more addiction symptoms than positive effects from using alcohol, and that they associated not having an alcohol-using partner with having a positive attitude to giving up alcohol;


  • drug dependence in homeless populations is also associated with sexual risk. Exchanging sex for money or drugs is common, and homeless drug users generally do not access mainstream sexually transmitted disease (STD) control programmes;


  • in the United States, 20% of homeless people with mental ill-health are dually diagnosed with substance dependence;


  • 81% of homeless people in the United Kingdom are addicted to either drugs or drink. Heroin comes top of the league, followed by alcohol. 2/3 of homeless people cite drug or alcohol us as a reason for first becoming homeless. Four in five have started using at least one new drug while homeless;*


  • in a study looking at 472 homeless men housed in shelters in the two largest cities in the Republic of Korea, lifetime prevalence of alcohol dependence was found to be 37.4% - twice as high as the general population rate;


  • * Crisis, Home and Dry?, 2002.
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