While it may seem a tropical paradise, Tampa is no stranger to homelessness. The Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative predicts that there are over 1650 homeless individuals in Tampa-Hillsborough County. As the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the United States, homeless populations find themselves facing the disease without much support. It’s important in times to crisis to protect the most vulnerable of society. Whether disease comes in the form of COVID-19 or addiction, homeless populations will need help to overcome it.
The Link Between Homelessness, Coronavirus, and Addiction
Homeless populations, regardless of their locations, often face high rates of disease. This is due to a medley of reasons, but the lack of shelter is perhaps the most glaring. Being outside all day, warm or cold, sunny or rainy, summer or winter, can take a toll on one’s immune system. While Tampa is generally warm year-round, sleeping outside in rainstorms can increase the risk of illness. Homeless shelters tend to be overcrowded, especially in Tampa. Crowded places make it easy for the coronavirus to spread. This places Tampa’s homeless population at severe risk of contracting COVID-19.
Homeless individuals who struggle with addiction are at even greater risk during the coronavirus pandemic. This is because addiction often revolves around substance abuse. Many substances, alcohol chief among them, weaken your immune system. Certain types of drugs and narcotics can also harm your lungs. When one is struggling with addiction, they are placed at greater vulnerability for contracting diseases.
Treating Disease, From COVID to Addiction
Action to help Tampa’s homeless population will need to be implanted quickly and efficiently. Emergency homeless shelters are a great start, but the high population of homeless in Tampa will require additional action. Expanding access to shelter and healthcare is a great first step to reduce the number of homeless affected by the coronavirus.
Treating addiction and substance use disorder is another excellent way to reduce the spread of disease in homeless communities. Many who abuse substance are often driven to participate in reckless behaviors. This can include sharing facilities, binge drinking, or even ignoring social distancing guidelines. This can increase the number of cases of COVID-19 amongst the homeless population. Treating addiction and curtailing these habits can be an important first step in reducing the spread of the coronavirus.
River Oaks Treatment Center, located outside Tampa in the town of Riverview, remains open and committed to providing crucial addiction treatment during the coronavirus pandemic. Our medically informed, patient-centric program is designed to heal body, mind, and soul. Don’t struggle with addiction in silence. A life in recovery is just a phone call away.