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Watching a family member or loved one struggle with addiction or mental health issues on the way to homelessness can be a devastating sight.
There is often a feeling of helplessness combined with a search for who or what to blame, especially considering the insidious catalysts. However, there are ways in which you can utilize the help of an interventionist as a strategy to prevent this downfall.
Below we will outline some of the common interventions and the best ways to step in without escalating things, assigning blame, or putting anyone in harm’s way.
Substance Abuse Intervention Help for Parents of Homeless Adults
The well-being of your child is the first and foremost priority of a parent. This sense of duty never goes away, regardless of the age or status of your child. As a parent, you may feel that it is solely your responsibility to fix all of your child’s problems without the help of anyone else. However, no parent is naturally prepared or qualified to deal with the complex mental, clinical and emotional problems that substance abuse brings.
Coupled with the physical and mental detriment of drugs and alcohol, your child will also face a number of financial and housing issues, and there is the inherent risk of instability in living conditions. Substance abuse is a chief cause of homelessness, with a national study showing that 38 percent of homeless people were dependent on alcohol, and 26 percent abused a different substance.
In addiction, there are certain milestones where chemical dependency takes a stronger and more permanent hold on its victim. These milestones are forks in the road where a decision could either cause the addiction to strengthen and worsen or could offer the chance to reverse course and take steps to recover from addiction. When faced with the possibility of homelessness due to substance abuse and addiction, the addict and family can utilize this threat as a milestone and as evidence of the need for immediate intervention.
Parents Should Not Attempt Substance Abuse Interventions without the Help of a Professional Interventionist
Parents should not try to perform a drug and alcohol intervention by themselves and without the help of a professional interventionist. Try not to approach the situation with an authoritative viewpoint: ‘I’m the parent (or concerned family member)’ does not supply evidence or logic.
Let the professional substance abuse interventionist take the authoritative position; this will lessen the responsibilities you need to concern yourself with so you can focus on providing caring and loving support behind the suggestions of the interventionist.
With the help of a professional, sending the message you are here if they would like help and you choose not to do anything that enables them to stay in the position they are in is an approach that often works well. Avoid ever telling them what they have to do or what they should do. Love and trust while avoiding guilting or shaming them goes a long way.
The emphasis should be that you both have the same goal of a healthy, substance-free life.
Is Your Family In a Critical Situation with a Loved One Struggling with Substance Abuse and Facing Homelessness? A Substance Abuse Intervention May Offer The Solution
The Connection Between Homelessness and Addiction
With alcohol abuse as a factor in over a quarter of all homelessness cases, the link between alcoholism and homelessness is crystal clear.
Once an addict is out on the streets by themselves, homelessness and addiction combine in a cycle of self-destructive behaviors. The struggle to support the addiction and support everyday hygiene and housing needs can push many addicts to illegal activities like drug dealing or prostitution.
Addiction and other forms of self-destruction can combine to be mutual enablers, including the process of getting money for drugs. Third-party sex markets, drug sales, or grifts become prevalent on the way to acquiring drugs. Similarly, addicts do not prioritize stability if it interferes with an addiction.
While most people in these circumstances see homelessness as temporary, the damage is longer-lasting than they anticipate. More than half a million people are sleeping outside or in an emergency shelter on a given night, and this population does not make it to stability very often. A sad consideration is a longer they remain homeless, the more comfortable they become being homeless. The sooner you can offer them help, the greater the chance they will accept it.
One of the toughest things to acknowledge is that if an addiction perpetuates initial homelessness, it will often be exacerbated by the side effects of living on the street. Thus, it is vital to get out in front of this problem as early as possible.
Mental Health & Homelessness
How Mental Health and Substance Abuse Often Leads to Homelessness
A dangerous trajectory is when self-destructive habits are seen as phases or quirky habits. It is all too common that drug use or underlying mental conditions are misunderstood or misdiagnosed, and it results in major fallout — often homelessness.
Early signs of substance abuse are often tolerated by parents because of the prevalence of alcohol and other recreational drugs in society today. It is important to note that ANY use of alcohol or drugs should be considered an indicator of possible substance abuse issues and addiction.
All addictions start with just a single drink or taking a drug “once, to experience it.” While some people have used drugs and alcohol and never let addiction take hold of them, that should never lead you to believe that drugs and alcohol are harmless or can be harmless in some.
Mental Health Issues as Precursors for Addiction
One of the biggest red flags is if someone has a mental health issue and they begin to get caught up in alcohol abuse or drug use. Co-occurring disorders (the combination of substance abuse and mental health issues, including depression) are especially dangerous cases that parents and family members should plan to intervene in quickly.
Mental health concerns (even slight cases of depression, anxiety, etc.) are not under control if substances like drugs and alcohol are being taken. Likewise, drug and alcohol issues can not be dealt with until the mental health issues are controlled.
If someone you know is exhibiting behavior that could be diagnosed as a mental health issue or a drug problem, they need help that they cannot get on their own. It is important to seek professional guidance to appraise the situation and step in as soon as possible.
Young Adults and Women are More Susceptible to Homelessness
Young adults and women become candidates for homelessness in the same way that most people do- via substance abuse and mental illness. The problem is that the respective problems of these demographics are not as well diagnosed or treated, which leads to significant long-term issues.
Don’t Disregard Symptoms of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues as Adolescent Growing Pains
The symptoms of drug and alcohol use or mental health issues are often overlooked in young adults. Many parents think that symptoms like moodiness, changes in sleep patterns, anxiety, and irritability are just symptoms of being a teenager.
The dangerous issue with this type of thinking is that teenagers grow out of their “teen angst symptoms” in 1-4 years, and substance abuse issues can turn into a full-blown addiction problem in less time than that. Therefore, it is important for parents to completely rule out drugs and alcohol before disregarding the behaviors as common young adult behaviors and moods.
Young adulthood is one of the most tenuous portions of human development, and the prevention of these issues early is of grave importance. Allowing a mental disorder or substance abuse to be accepted because of someone’s age will lead to long-term issues, including addiction and homelessness.
Women may be met with a similar response when they display symptoms of mental health issues. They are often labeled as more emotional than men and treated as though their problems are not valid. Mental health and substance abuse issues need to be dealt with early, before the problems compound, and unfortunately, women’s concerns are too often disregarded until they become more pronounced.
Ultimately, treating all mental health and substance abuse issues as valid will yield better results both short and long-term. It is important to treat any family member or loved one with respect if they have an issue and try to seek professional guidance to address it if you believe there will be ramifications from it.
How Family First Intervention Can Help Your Family with Substance Abuse and Preventing Homelessness
Facing a loved one who is struggling with substance abuse and the threat of homelessness is daunting. It is a situation that requires strategy, tact, and mental fortitude. However, it is not a challenge that needs to be faced alone.
Family First Intervention can help your family with interventions related to substance abuse and homeless prevention. Our team of experts is experienced in assisting people to reach their loved ones before they endanger their residency situation in the face of substance abuse.
If you would like a consultation with one of our professionals, please reach out today. We would love to help you and your family today.
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An intervention is not about how to control the substance user; it is about how to let go of believing you can.
“The most formidable challenge we professionals face is families not accepting our suggested solutions. Rather, they only hear us challenging theirs. Interventions are as much about families letting go of old ideas as they are about being open to new ones. Before a family can do something about the problem, they must stop allowing the problem to persist. These same thoughts and principles apply to your loved one in need of help.”Mike Loverde, MHS, CIP