Does Homelessness Decrease Women’s Motivation?

Last updated on November 4th, 2019

Homelessness and addiction are two intertwined problems that leave destruction and broken lives in their wake.

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, more than 68 percent of all U.S. cities report that addiction is their single largest cause of homelessness. Without receiving professional help to treat the root causes of addiction, formerly homeless addicts are at a much higher risk of returning to the streets. Unfortunately, the most common stereotype of the chronically homeless is that they choose a life of addiction and have absolutely no desire to get sober.

Examining Motivation

According to the study, with homeless women at a higher risk of addiction, many are unfairly labeled as “unmotivated” to get sober.

Breaking an addiction is difficult for anyone, but it’s especially hard for homeless and addicted females. For starters, the proper motivation may be dampened by the need to survive. Finding food, shelter, clothing, and other basic human needs takes precedence over addiction recovery – especially when children are involved.

Research published in the February 2014 edition of The American Journal on Addictions examines the association between homeless women and their motivation to achieve sobriety. According to the study, with homeless women at a higher risk of addiction, many are labeled as “unmotivated” to get sober. With that stigma, homeless women receive fewer treatment opportunities.

Results of the Study

Men vs. WomenRecent data shows that homeless women face a distinct disadvantage when seeking addiction treatment services. By evaluating more than 1,000 addicts arrested for drug-related crimes, women were found to be in far worse shape than men, with particular differences seen in income, education, mental health, and level of addiction.

A total of 154 women participated in the study. Of those, 69 participants experienced homelessness during the previous 90 days, while 85 were continuously housed for the previous 90 days. Dr. Linda Weinreb, one of the study’s lead authors, says the women completed six testing phases that rated “motivation to change alcohol and drug use.” Specifically, researchers hoped to determine the women’s levels of importance, readiness, and confidence as they pertain to addiction recovery.

When it comes to the odds of reporting “high motivation to change drug use,” the data showed no significant differences between the women who experienced homeless days and the women who were housed. Variables identified among the women, however, were related to the long-term consequences of substance use and participation in 12-step programs.

When it comes to the odds of… “high motivation to change drug use,” the data showed no significant differences between the women who experienced homeless days and the women who were housed.

What Can We Learn from the Study?

The findings of this study suggest that it is unfair to assume that homeless women have a decreased motivation to change or overcome substance use. Put simply; the same opportunities for addiction treatment should be offered to both homeless and housed women.

Learn more about your treatment options for drug abuse and addiction.

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