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Question by Emma: what are some ways to reduce homelessness?
i am writing a proposal on homelessness in richmond va. I am looking for some ways in which we could reduce or eliminate the homeless.

So far i can only think of 2 which are affordable housing and increase in employment rate.

i need two more ways of which we could potentially reduce the amount of homeless or eliminate it altogether

any suggestions would be helpful

Best answer:

Answer by rec4lms
I think that the first issue for you to tackle is to determine why they are homeless.

The issues that I deal with find that a significant percent of the homeless have mental health issues. The second issue (not as large as mental health issues in my experience) is that many people have issues with alcohol or drug abuse. (Many people can function while abusing alcohol/drugs but many can not.) The third issue is that people have no jobs, no money, no credit, and no resources to turn to when they are down and out.

The USA does a horrible job in dealing with mental health issues, with most of the mental health hospitals being defunded or closed. Unfortunately the response the government has taken is to wait for them to commit a crime and then incarcerate them. Thus, determine how many mental health facilities are in the Richmond area that help those who can not afford treatment. (The only place we use is Central State in Petersburg.) Also note that those with mental illness can not be compelled to take their medications without a court order. And I’ve never seen the court order someone to take medication unless they are incarcerated and need to be up for trial.

Alchohol and drug abuse is a completely different problem to deal with. It may be recreational, it may be escapist, or it may be addiction. Some will respond to treatment, especially if they want treatment. However, they have to want to improve. To paraphrase one person that I worked with, when they were taking drugs they felt that everything was perfect.

Lack of job/money/resources is both one of the worst situations but also one of the easiest one’s to directly handle. Note that I listed “resources.” A resource is anything that one person can use. This can include friends and family. Religion is also important in this because even though it is often bad mouthed in TV and movies however in reality church members stick together. Affordable housing is a good idea but often politics gets involved in a situation. Several years ago I was earning $ 19,000 a year, which is not very much. My roommates and I got kicked out of an apartment because a new company bought it and made it Section 8. The reasoning we were given was that we earned too much money. A lot of the rules and laws are kind of idiotic and often geared to the lowest common denominator. Try to improve yourself and you don’t get help, but don’t try and you get supported. (There are many who truly do need help because they have hit rock bottom but unfortunately a lot of people take advantage of that safety net.) My neighbor is a great example of this. Her husband passed away and she works three jobs to keep her kids and house. However, she could quit all three jobs and get federal money. There is no tapering off of assistance, either you get assistance or you get nothing and this makes it difficult because the money for assistance is often more than the money you can earn on your own.

So, I give you the following: 1) Improve Psychiatric Care for those who need it.
2) Increase alcohol and drug treatment options.
3) Rework the Section 8, Unemployment Benefits, and the Food Stamp/WIC programs. We can probably go for Medicaid also but I don’t deal with that all that much.

I know, Too Long Didn’t Read. I used to be positive and felt that I could help those that are less fortunate than I am, and that lead to a career into such. However, a lot of troubles have been brought on by their own problems. Sadly, trying to save the world may have made me jaded but I also feel that it has made me realistic: Some people can only help themselves and the current system works against those who are trying to improve their lot in life.

I hope that this helped.

Good luck.

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Narconon Freedom Center Joins Albion Health Alliance Committee
Narconon is very pleased about the theme this year as it provides an opportunity to show the community the worldwide scope of the Narconon Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Program. For their Christmas tree, they have decided to design and handcraft a …
Read more on Midland Daily News

Plan emerges for Aspen detox center, treatment
… detox center and treatment services in the wake of the closure of a detox facility in Glenwood Springs and the coming shut-down of The Right Door, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program in Aspen that is scheduled to close its doors at the end of …
Read more on Aspen Times

When drug, alcohol and legal problems converge, Veterans Treatment Court
Castillas, 53, is one of five veterans who completed the treatment program this year. He is currently finishing his sentence on Drug and Alcohol Probation and working part-time at Goodwill. "Now I wake up and I look forward to the day, and I am ready …
Read more on Evansville Courier & Press

Anyone who has ever suffered from drug addiction knows that it takes exceptional courage and strength to admit to having a drug problem. Individuals should not be embarrassed of this fact, or try to handle it alone. Drug abuse and addiction does not discriminate, affecting different races and age populations. No matter how overwhelming “getting clean” may appear, it is important to note how many millions of other people and their families have successfully weathered the turbulent times of drug addiction. With the proper medical assistance and with helpful social support, recovery is definitely possible. By locating other ways of coping with life’s problems, the ironclad grip of addiction will eventually lose its stronghold.

Because addiction is such a challenging disorder, relapses tend to occur frequently; this can be frustrating and disheartening for drug abuser and her family. Many people wonder if all the treatments currently available for addiction really work. For many, they have. There are several types of treatment for drug addiction, from attending peer support group meetings to living in a residential treatment facility for a limited time. Some physicians prescribe medications, to help the individual experience less craving for the drug and to assist with the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Getting clean is only the beginning of recovery. Once clean, the brain requires time to recover and reestablish connections that have changed while addicted. During this timeframe, depression and cravings can be very powerful, and they are very difficult to combat. If the recovering addict has no support, he is likely to relapse. With capable treatment, you can fight your drug addiction by learning new coping skills to handle stressful situations. If these skills are not learned, when faced with temptation or in the height of stress, the recovering addict is likely to relapse.

The first step to getting clean is realizing that you have a problem and need help. Here are some good resources to start with:

  • Peer support (AA, NA). Peer support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are places where you can bond with others like you while learning how to stay clean

  • Therapy. If you are seeing a therapist, you are encouraged to share your goals with him. He can provide good support, especially when you need someone to just listen.

  • Medical professional. When trying to release yourself from your drug addiction you may experience withdrawal symptoms that require you to see a physician. Your physician may also prescribe medications that can help make withdrawal symptoms more comfortable.

The withdrawal from drugs can be a painful process. See the chart below for some of the most severe withdrawal symptoms from some of the most frequently abused drugs.

Withdrawal symptoms
Cocaine Agitation, insomnia, anxiety, depression, anger, cravings, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, shakes, irritability, muscle pain.
Methamphetamine Extreme fatigue, disturbed sleeping patterns, irritability, restlessness, intense hunger, moderate to severe depression, anxiety, angry outbursts, lack of motivation, mental confusion, psychotic reactions, depression, intense cravings for the drug.
Opiates (e.g. heroin, oxycontin, vicodin) Watery eyes, runny nose, yawning, sweating, chills, stomach cramps, shakes, feeling jittery, irritability, panic, tremors, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, dilated pupils, goose bumps, rapid heart beat, high blood pressure, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches and pains.
Benzodiazepine (Anti-anxiety medications) Sleeplessness, irritability, anxiety, feeling shaky, headache, dizziness, loss of appetite, rapid heartbeat, sweating, agitation, and in extreme cases seizures.

There are several publicly funded facilities that provide drug treatment. Additionally, think about all the money you have spent on drugs, which could be spent on achieving a much healthier lifestyle.

Drug Enforcement Agnecy (DEA) –
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) –
National Institue of Health (NIH) –

Those who have witnessed their family members choosing drugs over them may wonder why they would do such a thing. Drugs are expensive, and if you are already struggling with finances, or if the loved one is in trouble with the law, their drug abuse may perplex and anger you even more. If you are a drug addict, you may be wondering why you are using drugs again, when you just swore you would never touch it again.

It is important to realize that individuals who abuse drugs are not the result of moral weakness or defective willpower. When one abuses drugs, it results in changes in the brain, creating stronger impulses to keep using. For this reason, individuals who abuse drugs often perpetuate broken homes and many end up dying from overdose. However, it is possible to recover from drug abuse. By learning how to identify the signs of symptoms of the abuse of drugs or addiction to them, you can be more efficient in spotting when the individual needs help. Additionally, with the proper amount of support and treatment, recovery can be permanently achieved.

Substance abuse is the repeated and excessive use of chemical substances to attain a specific effect. These chemical substances are usually “street” or “illicit” drugs, which are illegal because of their high propensity for addiction and abuse. Sometimes they are drugs obtained with a prescription, but instead of using them to help cure their ailment, users take them to get high.

Drug abuse comes in many forms, and different drugs have varying effects. For example, cocaine, or methamphetamine, often provide an intense “rush” and initial feelings of infinite energy, often to the point where the user feels superhuman. Drugs, such as heroin, benzodiazepines or the prescription OxyContin may cause extreme feelings of relaxation and calm. However, over-stimulation of the pleasure center of the brain is what most drugs have in common. Over time, the drug alters the brain’s chemistry to where not having the drug causes extreme discomfort and is even physically painful. This compelling urge to use the drug results in drug addiction; at this stage work, relationships, and health are often disrupted.

The abuse of prescription drugs is a growing societal problem; abusing them is just as dangerous as using street drugs. If prescription drugs are properly used, they can be beneficial in their medical and psychological treatment purpose. Opiates, such as Vicodin (hydrocodone) and OxyContin are often prescribed to treat severe pain or recovery from surgery. Benzodiazapines, such as Valium or Xanax, are typically prescribed to treat anxiety disorders. When these drugs are being for used non-medical reasons is when the problem arises. Furthermore, because prescription drugs are often obtained through a prescription, and are often placed inside the home (medicine cabinet), it provides easy access to other family members vulnerable to drug abuse.

Estimated arrests for drug abuse violations by age group, 1994-2006








































Source: Crime in the United States, annual, Uniform Crime Reports

To avoid becoming a statistic, visit SAMHSA’s website and contact a treatment facility near you.

Drug Enforcement Agnecy (DEA) –
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) –
National Institue of Health (NIH) –

Based on a 2007 survey, 7.8 percent of individuals aged 12 or older needed alcohol treatment for an alcohol problem in the past year; 8.1 percent received treatment at a substance use treatment facility; 4.5 percent required treatment but did not receive it; and 87.4 percent did not receive treatment and did not see the need for it. Only 27.9 percent of individuals who did not receive treatment for alcohol dependency but felt they needed it made an effort to receive treatment in the prior year. Estimates for 2004-2007 reflect that the most frequent reasons stated for not receiving treatment for alcohol dependency were not being ready to stop using alcohol, and insurance costs. Other reasons involved the social stigma associated with receiving treatment, feeling that treatment centers were not accessible enough, not feeling the need for treatment or thinking they could handle the problem on their own, and not knowing where to find treatment.

The abuse of alcohol affects the physical, mental, and fiscal health of millions of individuals each year. Alcohol treatment programs includes a wide array of programs designed to effectively treat alcohol dependence or abuse; however, there are many individuals who need treatment but refuse to use these resources, refusing to recognize the necessity of them. By increasing the public’s awareness of the symptoms of alcohol problems, widening screening for alcohol issues in primary care and emergency departments, and by ensuring that individuals are matched with the proper intervention or treatment services, an abundance of lives can be saved. Additionally, they can help to improve the lives of alcohol abusers, their families, and other citizens in the community.

In a 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) survey, respondents were asked if they ever felt they needed alcohol treatment at any time in the prior year but did not receive it. The chart below depicts the statistics for individuals needing treatment for an alcohol problem.

Figure 1. Needed Treatment for an Alcohol Problem in the Past Year among Persons Aged 12 or Older, by Demographic Characteristics: 2007


Among individuals who required treatment for alcohol use, it was determined that adults aged 26 or older were more likely than adolescents and young adults to have gotten treatment at a treatment facility; there was not much difference as it relates to gender.

When an alcoholic decides to undergo treatment, he must first rid himself of the alcohol inside his body. This grueling process of detoxification can create severe withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the severity, he may be required to undergo inpatient or outpatient care. Most often, outpatient care is the chosen route, provided there is a sober individual present to assist the alcoholic during the process.

Alcohol treatment should not be underestimated, as it helps to have a licensed physician determine whether medication and/or therapy is necessary. Furthermore, there are a bevy of treatment facilities available to assist with alcohol dependency. Visit SAMHSA’s website, click on the facility locator, and you will be able to find one located near you. Additionally, many of these facilities are publicly funded.

Drug Enforcement Agnecy (DEA) –
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) –
National Institue of Health (NIH) –