Many broken bottles under the Broadway Bridge (between 28th-29th) in Denver, in the way to get to bed in Roadcross Center. Some homeless get drunk under the bridge when the weather isn’t good company.
It is difficult to precisely target how many people living without a home have drug and alcohol abuse problems. But according to the U.S. Department on Housing and Urban Development (USHUD) and its most recent report on homelessness (see below), more than 4 in 10 individual homeless adults (42.9%) have disabilities, which include drug and alcohol problems. This statistic can compared to 14 percent of adults who have disabilities and are living without a home with families.
Furthermore, drug and alcohol use and homelessness are related according to whether or not a person is homeless for a short term or long term. Specifically, of the 5% of the nearly 2 million homeless people reported by the USHUD in 2009 categorized as chronically homeless, nearly all people living without a home for more than a month have family problems and some kind of disability, including drug or alcohol addiction or mental illness. Based on the 2009 HUD Homeless Assessment Report to Congress,
about one-third of sheltered homeless persons (in a point-in-time January study) reported chronic substance abuse problem… However, contrary to the perceptions that some people have of homelessness, a majority of homeless shelter users do not have chronic substance abuse problems or severe mental illness.
With such varying rates and numbers (chronic vs. short term homelessness, homeless individuals vs. homeless families, and the lack of precise data on “disability”), it is difficult to come up with a definition conclusion on the relationship between addiction and homelessness. But it seem logical to conclude that drugs and alcohol can play an important role in either getting a person on the streets, or KEEPING that person on the streets. And this seems to be in line with real experiences on the streets.