I'm sure you've heard the claim before that

Giving money to homeless men and women is just supporting their drug addiction.

But how true is that claim?

In any instance where I've tried being generous and buying them food -as opposed to simply throwing money out the window- I got the impression that the gesture wasn't appreciated. I'm willing to accept that there is a level of discomfort with people accepting handouts, as I too would be humiliated. These are personal experiences, so take that for what it's worth.

A little research nets me studies that loosely back that drug addiction theory.

38% of homeless people were dependent on alcohol and 26% abused other drugs.

National Coalition for the Homeless - Substance Abuse and Homelessness

At face value, those numbers are in line with what one might think, but I'd personally imagine non-homeless citizens probably succumb to about the same addiction numbers. That's a total guess, though. I have no real understanding of what constitutes alcohol/drug dependence.

So what's the deal, are the majority of homeless people drug addicts?

  • 1
    Some parts of your question were speculative or off topic, I've removed them. – Sklivvz Dec 25 '15 at 12:22
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    If someone is trying to use these figures to justify not giving money to the homeless then the central message is "72% of homeless are not on drugs.". – DJClayworth Dec 25 '15 at 17:09
  • I suppose the more appropriate term would be substance abuse; and without knowing how they arrived at the numbers listed in that study, one could argue that 64% are addicted to some substance (including alcohol). – Ryan Foley Dec 25 '15 at 20:51
  • Might want to limit the question to a particular country, I'm guessing this is something which differs significantly around the world - or at least in the developed versus developing world. – A E Dec 25 '15 at 21:01
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    Given that homeless people have a massively crappy life, it's perhaps not surprising that there'd be a higher rate of substance abuse - anything not to have to deal with reality even just for a few minutes. – Shadur Dec 25 '15 at 21:15

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