There are homeless people all over the US, suffering from a number of ailments the come with the struggles of not having a roof over your head or a bed to sleep in. However, many people don't know that the largest percentage of homeless people are found in Metro Los Angeles and South Los Angeles—our temperate climate is a huge draw to those who have to deal with the elements day after day.
Returning veterans are more at risk of homelessness due to their specialized training which is not always transferable in the regular workforce, substance abuse, shortage of affordable housing options and mental illness such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a mental health condition that affects two-thirds of our homeless veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The cause of the disorder and why some individuals are more prone to it than others is unknown.
While cannabis is medically legal in many states, there are still stringent requirements for exactly where individuals can medicate.
Drug withdrawals can be debilitating to both the individual overcoming addiction and their families. Most addictions start with over the counter prescription drugs, like Oxycodon and Vicodin—in 2013 1.8 million Americans were classified as having a prescription drug abuse disorder. Overdose deaths involving opioid prescriptions have quadrupled since 1999 and from the years of 1999 to 2014 the death toll hit over 165,000. According the National Institute of Health, people who start drug treatment programs often relapse after the first six months and/or become addicted to the medicines used to treat those drug withdrawals like Benzodiazepines and Methadone. 46 Americans die everyday from overdose of opioids with most of them being over the counter prescriptions, which has some states even declaring a “state of emergency” because of this opioid epidemic.
In this day and age, mental health care is expensive and difficult to attain for many people—some health insurance plans don’t even cover seeing a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist. For those that do cover it, you’ll still end up paying over $100 an hour, on average, as your co-pay depending on the doctor. Even for those of us with a full time job and health insurance, getting proper mental health care can feel overwhelming and overpriced. Now imagine that you don’t have a job, health insurance…or even a place to call home. Approximately 254,000 men, women and children experience homelessness in Los Angeles County during some portion of the year, according to the Institute for the Study of Homelessness and Poverty at the Weingart Center and an estimated 25% of these homeless individuals in Los Angeles County suffer from some form of mental illness. That means that on average, there are around 63,500 homeless individuals in Los Angeles each year struggling with mental illness who are not in a position to consistently pay to see someone or be on medication.