Thousands of people continue to live in the Sunshine State without a home. Homelessness is a pervasive issue in Florida, and it is now also one that is closely tied to our nation’s growing addiction epidemic. One of the dilemmas is that being homeless can be both a cause and an effect of substance abuse. Fortunately, there are addiction recovery resources in Florida that can provide treatment solutions.
What is the State of Homelessness in Florida?
Florida’s Council on Homelessness recently released an annual report on the state of Florida’s homeless population. This report also hopes to provide insight into the community in an effort to reduce the number of homeless in the state.
First, what is “homelessness”? For reporting purposes, there is a distinction between “sheltered” and “unsheltered,” both considered homeless. A sheltered person may be staying in transitional housing or a homeless shelter, but still not have their own permanent housing. An unsheltered person is one who is living on the street, in a car, or perhaps an abandoned property. While at severe risk for homelessness, people who are “couch-surfing” or staying with family are not considered homeless.
At a single point in time in 2017, there were 32,109 homeless people in the state of Florida. While homelessness has steadily declined across the state since 2013, a 33 percent decrease, there have been upticks in the homeless populations in several areas. Of Florida’s 27 counties, 11 reported increases in homeless numbers in 2017.
The Relationship Between Homelessness and Addiction in Florida
There is an unmistakable relationship between homelessness and substance abuse. In Florida alone, over 4,200 people suffered from chronic substance abuse and 4,700 from severe mental illness.
The National Health Care for the Homeless Council also reported on “How the Opioid Crisis Affects Homeless Populations.” The council reports that people who experience homelessness have higher than national average rates of poor health, mortality, and substance use disorders.
Addiction can be the cause of homelessness, where a person that has a substance use disorder loses the means to take care of basic needs as well as severs relationships with loved ones who may offer assistance. Another factor contributing to these issues is comorbidity related to mental illness.
According to one study, 75 percent of patients who are homeless with a substance use disorder in the past year also have a mental illness. In addition, many people who suffer from both homelessness and addiction have a history of trauma. While there may be challenges related to addiction treatment for this population, there has also been some progress.
Getting Help for Addiction in a Florida Drug Rehab
There are now more addiction treatment programs than ever that address opioid addiction, co-occurring disorders, and the challenges faced by people who struggle with substance abuse. Community organizations and government bodies have launched programs that support the homeless population who need help with substance use disorders, housing, and mental health issues.
It is vital that those who suffer from a co-occurring mental illness receive appropriate treatment simultaneously with substance abuse services. At The Orlando Recovery Center, we offer a range of addiction treatment services that are customized to suit your needs. Contact us now to discuss your situation and options with one of our addiction specialists.