WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — More homeless women are dependent on heroin and cocaine than men, while 91 percent of homeless people have mental health issues, new research suggests.
The new study found that a third of homeless women reported using heroin in the last month, as opposed to 28 percent of men. Researchers found 31 percent of women reported cocaine or crack cocaine use, compared with 29 percent of men, as reported by The Guardian. Overall, 37 percent of participants said they drank alcohol every day.
The research, conducted by Homeless Link, found that more women use methadone, a heroin substitute, than men and that prescription drug use is also more prevalent in females.
Researchers evaluated 3,355 people living in poverty and found that mental health conditions, like depression, were more common among women. An overwhelming majority (91 percent) of homeless people said they had mental health issues, while 88 percent reported a physical health issue.
There are over 600,000 homeless individuals living in the United States alone, with D.C. being home to more than 11,000 of them.
“The details revealed by this research may be surprising, but they illustrate how useful a health-needs audit can be in accurately assessing the needs of those experiencing homelessness. This evidence is vital for local areas to ensure the most effective responses to people’s needs are commissioned,” Jacqui McCluskey, director of policy and communications for Homeless Link, told The Guardian.
McCluskey also notes that there is a direct link between housing and health needs and ensuring homeless people have access to services across both sectors.
“If we are to make improvements for these very vulnerable people we need to develop our understanding of this population and their specific health needs,” Public Health England’s national director for health and well-being, Kevin Fenton, said.