If people cannot afford a place to live, they are at risk of becoming homeless. Families with children are losing their housing at unprecedented rates. A lack of affordable housing and the limited scale of housing assistance programs are the primary causes of homelessness. The growing gap between the number of affordable housing units and the number of people needing them has created a housing crisis for poor people.
Everyone should have access to comprehensive, quality, and affordable health care. For people struggling to pay the rent, a serious illness or disability can start a downward spiral into homelessness, beginning with a lost job, depletion of savings to pay for care, and eventual eviction.
|Alcohol & Drug Abuse
More than 17 million Americans -- 8.5 percent of the population -- have alcohol-use disorders, and 4.2 million meet the criteria for other drug-use disorders, according to a new survey from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
Results from the 2001-2002 National Epidemiology Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions showed that, overall, 9.4 percent of the U.S. population, or 19.4 million adults, have diagnosable alcohol or other drug disorders. The study also found that roughly the same number of Americans -- 19.2 million adults -- have independent mood disorders, such as major depression or manic disorder. Moreover, 23 million adults meet the criteria for independent anxiety disorders, the study found.
"Independent mood and anxiety disorders exclude transient cases of these disorders that result from alcohol and/or drug withdrawal or intoxication, conditions that usually improve rapidly without treatment once substance use ceases," NIAAA noted. "The distinction is important because the diagnosis of current mood and anxiety disorders among active substance abusers is complicated by the fact that many symptoms of intoxication and withdrawal from alcohol and other substances resemble the symptoms of mood and anxiety disorders and thus, the additional psychiatric disorder may be overlooked."
About one in five people with addictive disorders also has a cooccurring mental disorder, NIAAA reported.
"It would be incorrect for healthcare professionals to assume that the majority of mood and anxiety disorders are due to substance intoxication or withdrawal, and will remit when the patients stops drinking," said NIAAA Director Ting-Kai Li. "These findings suggest that treatment professionals should be prepared to treat or refer patients in stable remission from substance use for comorbid mood and anxiety disorders. Earlier research has demonstrated that, left untreated, such disorders may lead to substance use relapse and other negative outcomes."
The study was published in the August 2004 edition of the Archives of General Psychiatry.