The Trifecta: Homelessness, Mental Health, and Substance Use Disorders

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INTRODUCTION With nearly 3.18 million people in the United States, there are 610.042 individuals who are homeless which calculates to about nearly one in five individuals (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 and HUD/US, 2013). At any time situations can change that can render an individual’s homeless. There are no qualities that exempt individuals from the chances of becoming homeless. However, there are certain predispositions and characteristics that can predict the likelihood of becoming homeless. Homelessness can be contributed to a number of situations such as occupational stress, financial stress, mental health issues, substance use, gender, age, race, disabilities, incarceration, chronic illness, and family stress. Mental health disorders and substance use disorders are apparent within the population of individuals who are homeless. Mental health disorders and substance use disorders have varying factors that can cause a person to develop each disorder separately. People can often suffer immensely from each one individually. Mental health and substance use disorders can cause significant distress in the lives of those diagnosed. The opposite can also be said that significant distress can cause mental health and substance use disorders. The difference depends on a number of factors such as genetics, environment, resiliency, gender, and age. However, recovery from homelessness, mental health, and substance use disorders is possible if the right resources are available. DEFINITION Individuals often have their own perceptions and definitions of homelessness. These perceptions generally are over exaggerated. Over exaggerated definitions of what homelessness looks like can be explained by movies, TV shows, internet, and ev... ... middle of paper ... ...ents.” National Association of Social Workers, Vol 57, No. 1. Gulcur, Leyla, Padgett, Deborah K., and Tsemberis, Sam. (2006). “Housing First Services for People Who Are Homeless with Co-Occurring Serious Mental Illness and Substance Abuse.” Research on Social Work Practice, Vol 16 No. 1. Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria. (2008) Understanding dual diagnosis: mental illness and substance use. Retrieved from Doll, Helen, Fazel, Seena, Geddes, John, and Khosla, Vivek. (2008). “The Prevalence of Mental Disorders Homeless in Western Countries: Review and meta-regression.” PLoS Med 5(12): e225 Torrey, E. Fuller, M.D. (2011). Homeless Mentally Ill Fact, Figures, and Anecdotes. Retrieved from

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