What Came First Substance Abuse or Homelessness?

by asang1 on Avril 20, 2014 - 11:27pm

Have you ever wondered if substance abuse was a cause or effect of homelessness? Well many American citizens lack the knowledge on what causes homelessness and that the majority of homeless citizens do not choose the path they have fallen into. Homelessness has become a major issue for many people throughout the world that is becoming more and more prominent every year. There are many causes as to why homelessness is becoming more prominent and many always seem to believe that substance abuse is the major cause of homelessness over any other possible reason. Well Guy Johnson and Chris Chamberlain conducted a wide research to investigate whether substance abuse was a cause or effect of homelessness by examining 5,526 case studies and 65 supplemented in depth interviews from two different homeless organizations. It was found that 43% of the sample had substance abuse issues before becoming homeless while 67% of the samples were found to have substance abuse following homelessness. The examined data and interviews reveal the drug abuse follows homelessness as a way to cope with the harsh and repressive environment and substance abuse causes more problems down the road for them. The second reason for problematic substance use stems from increasing involvement in the homeless is that drug use is a very common and accepted social practice among the homeless population and so many begin to participate. Johnson and Chamberlain also found that those who were homeless at a younger age of 18 and under or experience homelessness more than once were found to be more susceptible to becoming addicted to drugs due to their predicament and inability to adapt to a new environments. Their research has made it clear that the relationship between problematic substance abuse and homelessness is complex and that it varies between each individual case but overall substance abuse had seemed more prominent after homelessness occurred and not before. This proves that substance abuse is not an effect of homelessness and that many citizens do not choose to become homeless it just occurs.


            The main purpose of this article was to show the relationship between substance abuse and homelessness and to show that substance abuse is not a major cause of homelessness. Many people can be oblivious to the fact that homelessness is not self-inflicted and that there are other major causes that can cause anyone to become homeless. This article really proves to everyone that homelessness is not a choice and all though some become homeless due to carelessness with drugs, there are many who do not choose to be in their situation. The purpose of this research was well executed and proven true. It was found that a majority of homelessness were abusing substances after they became homeless. Since they used over 5000 case studies and 65 interviews makes it reliable and can be assumed for the areas of study. I believe in their statement that there are variations between cases, because the cause of homelessness is different and varies between different individuals. I also believe that substance abuse is not the major cause of homelessness although it is a cause for some, but there are much bigger causes than substance abuse for example, you could be born into it, unemployment, natural disasters, veterans become homeless and also those with criminal pasts also have tendency to become homeless. It has been shown that substance abuse is an effect of homelessness and is clearly due to the predicament people are being forced into, and that the subculture of homelessness involves substance abuse. The one thing I think they would want us to take from their research is that substance abuse is not in fact a major cause but is a domino effect of homelessness in which we should realize that it is not always a path to be chosen.  

 Johnson, G., & Chamberlain, C. (2008). Homelessness and Substance Abuse: Which Comes First?. Australian Social Work, 61(4),



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