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How Addiction, Homelessness, and Malnourishment are Connected

Addiction is a complex issue that brings a number of difficulties into the lives of those who struggle with it. Homelessness and malnourishment are two common issues that can affect people who have an addiction.

When addiction leads someone to homelessness or malnourishment, it can be difficult to build a healthy life again without the proper support. That’s why it’s essential for people struggling with addiction to get the help they need as soon as possible. 

National Hunger and Homelessness Week is observed every year in November. This week is meant to raise awareness of how to help people who are homeless, undernourished, or unstably housed, and how to help prevent people from falling into that situation in the future. 

A great way to observe this year’s Hunger and Homelessness week is to learn about the link between these issues and addiction. The more you know about these issues, the more you will be able to share your knowledge and help others live their most healthy and fulfilling lives. 

How are Addiction and Malnutrition Related?

Researchers have found that many people dealing with a drug or alcohol addiction also often have nutritional deficiencies. Alcohol makes it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients from the foods we eat, so when people consume excessive amounts of alcohol, they often miss the nutrients they need to be healthy. 

Many different substances can have a major impact on appetite. Many individuals with addictions don’t feel like eating. These people don’t have enough nutritional value, and the substances in their bodies make it impossible to absorb any of the nutrients from the little food they consume. This cycle quickly leads to malnourishment. 

Substance abuse disorders can change people’s behavior, and in some cases, these disorders can lead to extreme financial difficulties. When this happens, addicts often choose to spend money on drugs or alcohol rather than food. This is when hunger becomes very dangerous. These financial issues can also lead to homelessness, leaving individuals struggling with both hunger and homelessness while also battling an addiction. 

When Homelessness Leads to Addiction

Homelessness and addiction have a strong connection. Many people develop addictions after becoming homeless. Homelessness can be caused by a number of uncontrollable circumstances, such as rising housing costs, unexpected job losses, or other unexpected changes. In some instances, women, children, and teenagers become homeless when fleeing domestic abuse. Whatever the cause of homelessness, when people can’t find shelter quickly, the situation can become severe. 

Homelessness that lasts more than a few days can cause severe physical pain, health problems, and hopelessness. This is because severe weather, sleep deprivation, and lack of access to bathrooms or showers and other necessary amenities make it difficult to keep the body functioning well. 

The stresses caused by homelessness require support for individuals to cope. Without access to strong support systems, good health care, or sufficient coping mechanisms, many homeless individuals turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with the stress of living unsheltered. 

This can lead to a difficult cycle to break due to the addictive nature of these substances. When children and teenagers are homeless, they are especially susceptible to developing addictions, which can last for years and be very difficult to overcome. 

When Addiction Leads to Homelessness

While sometimes homelessness comes first and causes a person to develop an addiction, the addiction can also develop first, causing a person to end up without a home. Substance abuse disorders can cause erratic behavior, leading to a job loss or the loss of social support from friends or family. Substance abuse can also lead to impulsive financial decisions. All of these things can lead an addict without the means to support themselves or the ability to afford housing. 

When people lose their housing, it can become even more difficult to beat their addictions. This causes a cycle of drug use and homelessness that often requires ample support to overcome.

Preventing Homelessness 

Homelessness is a complicated issue, but there are things that can be done to help people avoid it. The best thing you can do is share information about the resources available to people at risk of homelessness. Many regions have programs available for rent and mortgage payment assistance. Look up these programs in your area and share what you found with those around you. 

If you suspect a woman or child is experiencing domestic abuse, provide them with information about shelters and crisis centers specifically set aside for their support. This can help reduce the number of homeless women and children. Other resources like food pantries, counseling services, and employment agencies can help people facing financial difficulty. 

Preventing Addiction

Helping people avoid homelessness is an excellent way to reduce the risk of addiction for thousands of people. Other ways to prevent addiction include participating in community-building activities, sharing mental health resources, and speaking openly with your friends and family about the issue. 

Preventing Malnourishment and Hunger

Addiction and homelessness are two of the biggest causes of hunger. When you help someone avoid both of those issues, you’ll already have participated in an amazing effort to prevent malnourishment. 

Other efforts you can take to prevent malnourishment include hosting a food drive, donating to local food pantries, donating to charities that work to end hunger, and volunteering with organizations that feed the hungry. 

Finding Support When You Have An Addiction

Overcoming an addiction can be difficult without support, but anyone can beat their addiction and live a healthy life with a strong treatment plan and proper support. When you reach out for help with your addiction, you’re also reducing your risk of dealing with issues like homelessness and hunger. 

If you are struggling with a substance abuse disorder, the sooner you are able to get treatment, the better. With treatment, you can build healthy coping mechanisms, form proper nutritional habits, and learn to live without the substance you’ve become dependent on. 


Treatment programs like the one at Jackson House can help you get back on a path toward a healthy life. If you or someone you care about could use support in beating their addiction, reach out to a provider to get help right away.

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