Exploring the motivation behind the homeless population's drinking habits, and the effect it has on psychological and physical wellbeing
Davies, Helen Mai
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Background: The homeless is described as a vulnerable population that seem to display high mortality rates as of compared to the normal, or general population (Nordentoft & Wandall-Holm, 2003 as cited in Thiesen and Hesse, 2009). This vulnerability refers to issues such as increased illness rates, and most of all substance abuse (O’Connell, 2004). Alcohol misuse is described as a key issue considered to exacerbate the causation of homelessness (McNaughton, 2008). Therefore it is necessary for interventions that we find the motivations behind the alcohol dependence found in the homeless population. Aims: The aims of this research was to find out what motivations there are behind the alcohol intake of the homeless population, and what are the psychological and physical effects. Method: A qualitative approach was taken, where a semi-structured interview was conducted in order to ascertain relevant information relating to the aims of the research. 7 Participants took part in the interview, both male and female, which were ascertained from a supported housing unit. Results: 8 themes were generated from the transcript, relating to the motivation of individuals to drink, and the effect it had on them, whether it being physiological or psychological. Discussion: Themes within the transcript seemed to mostly agree or associate with current or past research, that the homeless population seem to turn to alcohol as some sort of coping mechanism (Stump & Smith, 2008), and to deal with life stressors such as the lack of a close social network. Limitations include the difficulty of obtaining a clear definition of the representative sample, due to not knowing their background. Future research should focus on the motivations as well as trying to obtain more personal detail, which could be ascertained through a more confidential way such as questionnaires. Conclusion: The homeless population suffer from major issues such as chronic unemployment and social issues, which lead to or is lead from alcohol dependence and misuse. These issues need to be dealt with sensitively, and as soon as they are addressed in order to progress and better the lives of the individuals.
B.Sc. (Hons) Psychology
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