[Hpn] Drug, Mental Problems Among Homeless on the Rise;Health;Reuters;10/24/01

Morgan W. Brown norsehorse@hotmail.com
Wed, 24 Oct 2001 22:41:02 -0400

Hey Doc, prescribe me some affordable housing, why don't cha?!

Morgan <norsehorse@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont


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Health - Reuters - updated 5:44 PM ET Oct 24

Wednesday October 24 5:41 PM ET
Drug, Mental Problems Among Homeless on the Rise

By Emma Hitt, PhD

ATLANTA (Reuters Health) - Homeless people are much more likely to have 
substance abuse problems and psychiatric illnesses today than they were 20 
years ago, according to new data.

Researchers led by Dr. David E. Pollio of Washington University in St. 
Louis, Missouri, found significant increases in rates of alcoholism and drug 
use, as well as an increase in major depression and bipolar disorder, among 
the homeless. The rate of schizophrenia also increased slightly.

The research team presented the findings Wednesday at the American Public 
Health Association (news - web sites)'s annual meeting.

To make the comparison, Pollio's team examined data from three similar 
studies of homeless men and women in St. Louis conducted in 1980, 1990 and 

Over the 20-year period, drug use among both men and women increased 
sixfold, with about 60% of homeless people being diagnosed with drug abuse 
at some point in their lives.

Alcoholism rates remained unchanged among men, but among women, the rate 
nearly doubled over the study period, with about 40% of homeless women being 
diagnosed with an alcohol problem in 2000.

``The findings support the need for increasing opportunities and access for 
mental illness and substance abuse treatment for homeless populations,'' the 
researchers note.

According to Pollio, although the findings are from the homeless in St. 
Louis, other cities would probably show similar findings. ``The rates are 
not rising at the same pace in the general population, and that's why this 
is so important,'' he said.

Pollio noted that in the past, addiction among the homeless has been viewed 
as more of a ``moral'' problem than an illness that needs to be treated, 
which could explain why it has not been addressed in this population.

``I don't know if the rates will keep increasing, but there's obviously an 
upper limit,'' Pollio told Reuters Health. ''I would expect to see increases 
in various segments of the homeless population, such as women.

``Services need to be focused in on the changing nature of the homeless 
population,'' he added. ``It is becoming increasingly about addiction, 
mental illness and multiple diagnoses.''


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Morgan <norsehorse@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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