"Opinion: People think drug use causes homelessness. It’s usually the other way around"

Ryan Assaf, UCLA FSPH alum, states that individuals who are homeless for longer lengths of time are more likely to use drugs.


A common perception among many Californians is that substance abuse is a chief cause of people losing their housing and living on the streets. But research debunks this myth.

Findings from the recent California Statewide Study of People Experiencing Homelessness encompassing more than 3,200 adults — the largest and most representative sample of homeless individuals since the 1990s — found that 50% have not used any drugs (methamphetamine, cocaine, crack cocaine or nonprescription opioids) in the last six months.

While drug use is much lower in California’s housed population, by no means does every person who is homeless actively use drugs.