Addiction – One Of The Many Causes Of Homelessness
Original article written by Stephen Fear for the Huffington Post on 5th June 2017:
The causes of homelessness are many and, despite common belief, not all are associated with the negative causes of excessive use of alcohol and non-prescription drugs.
Undoubtably, many people do fall into homelessness because an addiction occurs. The root cause of this addiction isn’t usually drugs or alcohol in themselves but more the circumstances that drive a person to need a prop.
Causes can be associated with physical or mental abuse, peer pressure, mental illness or even just plain boredom. The causes are many and often complicated by symptoms overlapping. Someone may develop mental illness and then become bored by their life circumstance before resorting to excessive drug or alcohol use as an example.
Once any addiction has taken hold it is difficult to shift. Habits become engrained in the neural pathways of our brains and actions are repeated over and over again. Once someone has experienced a ‘high’ caused by heroin, cocaine, or other highly addictive substances it can be almost impossible to break the cycle.
I have a friend addicted to smoking cigarettes. She became addicted aged 11 and for the last 59 years has continued to smoke every day. Even when her partner died of lung cancer she continued to smoke and still does to this day despite every packet she buys stating that “Smoking Kills”.
My Mum smoked cigarettes from around 1927 when aged eight! Smoking was considered ‘cool’ then of course, not that the word ‘cool’ would have been used in the 1920s! Even when she developed emphysema in her early 60s she continued to smoke and would even switch off her oxygen at night to light up. She very sadly died at 64, purely because of her addiction. Thankfully her particular habit didn’t take over her mind in the same way as heroin or smack might have done, she never lost her home during the 56 years she was an addict. She continued to work and therefore always paid her bills. In fact my Mum’s work habit was thankfully as strong as her cigarette habit!
Homelessness is a terrible affliction on our society and one that in 2017 should be consigned to history but until we can convince potential users that excessive use of substances that control their minds and in some cases cause its victims to beg, steal and borrow or even sell their bodies to feed their particular habit, we will be stuck in this endless cycle of despair which often results in homelessness.
Certainly there are things that can be done to help genuine victims.
Focusing our very capable intelligence services on finding the big international drug dealers is one. Britain in particular has a very effective intelligence service and a powerful law enforcement tradition. More should be done to focus on finding and bringing to book the cynical and greedy dealers who perpetrate this misery. In my opinion, minimum 25 year non commuted sentences for large scale drug dealers should be mandatory. When finally released from prison they should be on lifetime licences much as murderers are. The category of crime is similar after all! Further, their assets should be confiscated and ‘only’ used to finance rehabilitation for victims. This should include building homes to support homelessness caused by this particular addiction.
Surely prison sentences for genuine victims of drug use are a total waste of valuable public money. All it does is create more despair and does nothing to help the victim or society.
More and better understanding of what constitutes a victim and what constitutes a criminal businessman or woman is vital if we are to progress from this state of flux the world finds itself in at the moment.
It is definitely not ‘cool’ to take drugs, in fact it’s a bit dated and old fashioned, but dealing in the development, manufacture and distribution of hard drugs is a despicable crime and should be dealt with in much the same way as arson. Arsonists start fires with no knowledge or control over the result. Drug dealers are similar. The fire might just burn out or it could kill or injure thousands of people. The originator of arson has no knowledge of how far his crime might travel and in most cases doesn’t care. The same goes for cynical, illegal drug dealers and manufacturers who sell to smaller distribution networks who then in turn create the addicts we often see living homeless on our streets.
We need to put these criminals in an international pinscher movement and use every resource to eradicate the manufacturing and distribution networks.
I never thought that I would say it but there may be a case for legalising certain drugs which may help wipe out the criminals currently controlling the industry. Better that a democratically elected government controls such a powerful industry than international criminals.