Updated on May 22, 2024
3 min read

Statistics On Homelessness and Addiction

Homelessness and addiction are deeply intertwined issues that affect millions of people worldwide. Both have a complex relationship that feeds into one another.

The complexity of these issues is evident in the latest statistics regarding homelessness and addiction. It highlights the disproportionate prevalence of substance abuse among the homeless.

This article explores the current state of homelessness and addiction. We’ll examine trends, demographic factors, and successful interventions addressing these critical issues.

The Link Between Homelessness and Addiction

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) points out that homeless people have a high risk of substance abuse. 

  • About 1.8% of homeless people are at risk of substance abuse compared to low-income people with housing (0.3%).
  • In 2020, 580,000 people experienced homelessness on a single night. Among these, a significant portion had severe mental illnesses or chronic substance abuse issues. 
  • The National Coalition for the Homeless found that 55% of homeless people are alcohol-dependent. 
  • Meanwhile, 25% reported being dependent on other harmful substances.
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Trends in Homelessness

  • Homelessness has been rising since 2017, with an overall increase of 6 percent. 
  • In 2022 - 421,392 people experienced homelessness. 
  • The number of chronically homeless individuals hit a record high of 127,768.
  • In 2023, the population of people experiencing homelessness reached an all-time high of over 653,000. This marks a 12% jump in one year and the largest number in the 18-year history of the survey.
  • Veteran homelessness was cut in half from 2010 to 2020. 

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Demographic Disparities in Homelessness

Some subgroups, like veterans, have seen decreases in homelessness over certain periods. However, there have been increases throughout different subgroups and demographics.

These include:  

  • Black Americans are disproportionately affected by homelessness, being four times as likely to experience homelessness.
  • The Asian community saw a significant percentage increase in homelessness (64%).
  • Hispanics/Latinos experienced the largest surge in raw numbers (an additional 39,106 people) in 2023.
  • In 2023, 111,620 children were without homes in America. 
  • Nearly three-quarters of people experiencing homelessness were adults aged 25 or older, 18% were children under 18, and 8% were young adults aged 18 to 24.
  • Homelessness among transgender individuals saw a 178% increase.

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Impact of Homelessness on Recovery

Housing is a key factor in long-term recovery and reduces the risk of relapse. Without a permanent and supportive housing environment, homeless people will have a much more difficult time recovering from addiction. 

  • Rates of addiction are higher among people who are homeless compared to those who are not.
  • Around one-third of homeless individuals have problems with alcohol and/or drugs. About two-thirds of these individuals have lifetime histories of drug or alcohol use disorders.
  • In 2022, 21% of individuals experiencing homelessness reported having a serious mental illness, and 16% reported having a substance use disorder.

Successful Interventions for Homeless People in Recovery

For homeless people with mental illness, providing housing after treatment was effective for long-term recovery. Housing was also associated with decreased substance use and relapse among people with substance use issues and co-occurring disorders. 

Some examples of interventions for homeless people in recovery include:

  • Housing First approach: Prioritizes providing homeless individuals with stable housing without preconditions such as sobriety or engagement in treatment.
  • Integrated treatment programs: Programs that offer a combination of services to address substance use disorders, mental health conditions, and other health-related issues concurrently. 
  • Outreach and engagement services: Programs and services that directly engage with homeless people to offer support.
  • Support groups: Provide support, encouragement, and guidance to people currently experiencing similar challenges with substance abuse.
  • Harm reduction services: Aims to minimize the negative health and social consequences associated with substance use without necessarily requiring abstinence.

Addiction and homelessness are an intertwined and complex issue. The rising trends in homelessness and the disproportionate prevalence of substance abuse among them highlight the importance of intervention services.

It’s important to understand that stable housing plays a key factor in addiction recovery. The risk of addiction is much higher among homeless people, with around one-third of homeless people having problems with drugs and/or alcohol.

Successful interventions such as permanent supportive housing, health programs, and other harm reduction services can help foster long-term recovery. These approaches recognize the multifaceted nature of homelessness and addiction, allowing them to address a person’s specific needs.

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Updated on May 22, 2024
6 sources cited
Updated on May 22, 2024

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