Homelessness and addiction – a tragic pairing


Homelessness is often the result of substance abuse and alcohol addiction, just as these often contribute to homelessness. The two are, sadly, inextricably linked.

When homelessness leads to addiction, it is a result of the tough conditions of living on the street, finding food and shelter on a daily basis, struggling with ill-health, severe weather conditions and generally being deprived of love. This is a highly stressful state of being!

Drug abuse, homelessness and the youth

On the other side of the coin, drug abuse and alcohol addiction are often the cause of homelessness, and this is, unfortunately, most prevalent amongst the young.

According to the American ‘Addition centre,’ “Many homeless children and young adults are victims of substance abuse. Youths aged 12 to 17 are at greater risk of homelessness than adults, and many homeless youths have been the victims of severe abuse. 71% of missing, runaway, throwaway, or abducted children in the USA reported a substance abuse disorder.”

The factors contributing to youth homelessness as a result of substance abuse are the same all over the world…

  • Growing up in a homeless family
  • Genetics of substance abuse
  • Family abuse
  • Inability to cope with stress
  • Co-occurring disorders
  • Early use of substance abuse (using at a very young age)
  • Physical, sexual and emotional abuse
  • Running away from home 

What can we do?

Prevention as always is always better than cure. Parents, as one can see, are largely to blame for many of these issues, but in many instances, they can be the solution.

If you are a parent, sibling, neighbour or friend of a youth that you believe is suffering this path towards drug and alcohol abuse, do consider intervention – remembering that intervention does not mean judgement, but rather offering to help.

Reporting dire situations to the authorities is an option, but is often greeted by an already overburdened social services department, and probably a helpline of some sort may be a better route.

Obviously, in the case of already homeless children, there are certain people who will help, but possibly so can you.

The story of Melcum

We recently reached a milestone in our journey as a Faith-based rehabilitation centre with the granting of a ‘grace’ bed and pro bono recovery program to a young individual living on the streets of Johannesburg.

His name is Melcum, and whenever we were out handing out flyers in the streets surrounding the centre, Melcum would take one and he persisted in calling us and begging for our help.

One could call it Devine intervention, but we could no longer ignore his pleas and have now inducted Melcum into a drug and alcohol abuse rehabilitation program as a resident of the TLC centre.

Transformation through faith-based rehabilitation

Obviously, we cannot survive on ‘pro bono’ cases such as Melcum, but possibly you can find it in your heart, if you are in a financial position to do so, to bring the homeless child (or the child under threat of becoming homeless) to our Transformation Life Centre and discuss faith-based rehabilitation.

Although we have all the necessary resources and more than capable facilitators, some of whom are themselves recovered drug or alcohol addicts, we believe that true transformation is achieved through the love of Jesus Christ and the community that the youth will be introduced to as a part of the rehabilitation and on-going recovery process.

Whether the young person you encounter is homeless and an addict as a result of it – or drugs and alcohol have driven them to homelessness, the solution is the same – transformation through love. Contact us and let us see if together, we can make a difference.

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