Are All Homeless People Drug Addicts?
When lots of people envision homeless people, they picture lazy drug addicts or alcoholics that all have mental problems and sponge off the system when they don't have to. While there's plenty of people out on the streets that fit this description, it doesn't accurately describe homeless people as a whole. I was homeless myself and living on the streets and in shelters. So I met my fair share of other homeless people. I came across many drug addicts, much more than you would find in other parts of society. But they aren't the majority, and most of the people I met were definitely not addicts or alcoholics.
From what I've seen, most homeless people that are addicts choose to sleep in public places like on the streets in the downtown areas of large cities or in parks or other places like these. They tend to stay close to where their drug connections are and aren't as common in and around shelters as non-addicts are. This isn't to say that those who stay in and around homeless shelters are constantly living sober, and this also isn't to say that every person who sleeps in the downtown area of a city is an addict. I'd estimate that about 60% of homeless people use one drug or another every now and then, with marijuana being the most common one (if you even consider that to be a drug). But less than 10% use every day or are full-blown addicts. Keep in mind, many homeless people are on parole, so most of those ones stay away from drugs out of fear of going back to prison on a parole violation.
Lots of homeless people are regular everyday people that have suffered tragedies or hardships that most of society has been fortunate enough to avoid. Some people do become depressed and turn to drugs or alcohol to escape their harsh reality, but many are motivated to get out of their situation and know how bad drugs can affect their overall success and future. One common scenario is when a person is new to the streets and has nowhere to go and no friends or family to help them out. They then meet other people living on the streets and they find a sense of family there or a community of friends. So when everybody in this community is doing drugs, the new person falls victim to peer pressure out of a wanting to be accepted. So they start to use drugs such as crack cocaine and crystal meth and they eventually become addicted.
Those who are addicts and who get government or state aid, such as food stamps, often sell them for half-price in exchange for cash to buy drugs. I've met a few people who would do this every time they received an EBT card (Electronic Benefit Transfer), which is the plastic form of food stamps. Basically, there's people out there who want or need cheap food. So let's say you're a mother with a bunch of kids to feed. It's much cheaper for you to buy $200 worth of food stamps or funds on an EBT card for $100 and spend it on food, than it is to buy $200 worth of food with cash. The mother saves $100 on groceries and the person who sells the food stamps or EBT card now has $100 to buy drugs. It benefits everybody involved except for those who pay taxes to fund social aid programs like this. But these examples are not the majority, and most people who receive food stamps use them for food and many genuinely need them. There will always be a few bad apples in any group and people who really need the help shouldn't be denied assistance because of a few addicts that choose to cheat the system.
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