chapter  Six
20 Pages

Drunk, Stoned, Crazy, and Sick

There is a correlation between alcoholism and homelessness, or mental illness and homelessness, is not to say that either of these factors is a cause of homelessness. Drug abuse among the homeless, as among the population generally, has received considerably less attention than alcohol abuse, although all would agree that this is a serious and growing problem. The existence of large numbers of chronically mentally ill persons among the homeless has been cited as proof positive that deinstitutionalization has failed. While alcohol problems are much more widespread among homeless men than among homeless women, mental health problems are much more common among women than men; rates of drug abuse are approximately the same in both categories. Some people, in short, become homeless because of physical illness; many contract various physical illnesses because of their homelessness. To be drunk crazy, and homeless is about as low as one can fall.