424 Vance Lane - Lebanon, TN - Ph. (615) 449-9514

Homelessness and Addiction

Most of the addicts and alcoholics who arrive at A Friend of Bill's are homeless and indigent.  Their disease has taken their homes and the ability to sustain a manner of living in which they can support themselves.  After being here awhile, they become self sufficient, productive members of society once more. 

But  the relationship between addiction and homelessness is complex and controversial. While rates of alcohol and drug abuse are disproportionately high among the homeless population, the increase in homelessness over the past two decades cannot be explained by addiction alone. Many people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs never become homeless, but people who are poor and addicted are clearly at increased risk of homelessness.

During the 1980s, competition for increasingly scarce low-income housing grew so intense that those with disabilities such as addiction and mental illness were more likely to lose out and find themselves on the streets. The loss of SRO housing, a source of stability for many poor people suffering from addiction and/or mental illness, was a major factor in increased homelessness in many communities.

Addiction does increase the risk of displacement for the precariously housed; in the absence of appropriate treatment, it may doom one's chances of getting housing once on the streets. Homeless people often face insurmountable barriers to obtaining health care, including addictive disorder treatment services and recovery supports. The following are among the obstacles to treatment for homeless persons: lack of health insurance; lack of documentation; waiting lists; scheduling difficulties; daily contact requirements; lack of transportation; ineffective treatment methods; lack of supportive services; and cultural insensitivity. An in-depth study of 13 communities across the nation revealed service gaps in every community in at least one stage of the treatment and recovery continuum for homeless people (National Coalition for the Homeless, 1998).

In the final analysis, homelessness results from a complex set of circumstances which require people to choose between food, shelter, and other basic needs. Only a concerted effort to ensure jobs that pay a living wage, adequate support for those who cannot work, affordable housing, and access to health care will bring an end to homelessness.

Additional Information About Homelessness:

National Alliance to End Homelessness

Homelessness - HUD

Institute for the Study of Homelessness

Interagency Council on Homelessness

Homelessness - Tennessee

Homeless Search Engine - Tennessee

Homelessness and Addiction Recovery


A Friend of Bill's, Lebanon, TN 37087, Toll-Free Phone: (866) 388-9514

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