Ever been Homeless in relation to Alcohol Consumption


This paper will discuss the significance between those who have identified as homeless and the rates of alcoholism within homeless people. The results from the statistics Canada’s survey will contrast to statistics used in papers from other geographical areas. Although in some countries alcoholism rates are higher amongst homeless people in compared to non-homeless people, in Canada those of homeless status statistically drink less than non-homeless people. This paper will identify the factors that contribute to the lower rates of alcoholism amongst homeless people as well as the possible reasons that contribute to higher rates of alcoholism in non-homeless Canadian citizens. Then, using statistics Canada’s 2014 General Social Survey on Victimization, and ANOVA test of those who identify as homeless and alcoholism will be done and the outcome will be clarified. Finally, we will dig further into the limitations of the data set and make suggestions for further studies.


Introduction/literature review

People all over the world are affected by alcohol. The majority of literatures related to alcohol discuss alcoholism and the negative effects it has on our bodies and mind. So, when alcoholism is analyzed, its seen as a major health dilemma and sickness (Pettinati & Rabinowitz, 2005). In our Canadian society, we follow the American dream complex where the better quality of life is based on wealth and ownership, because of this our values and morals are in favor of the elite. The effects of alcoholism can lead a life in a negative life trajectory based on Canada’s values and morals. One of these possible outcomes is homelessness.

Statistics Canada 2014 defines homelessness as not having a permanent place to live including living with friends and family temporarily because they did not have anywhere else to live (Rodrigue, 2014). Studies show that once a person’s stigma is related to alcoholism, to protect their dignity they turn away from people they respect; their home, friends and family and become self-reliant which can lead to homelessness (McCormack, 2015). But, homelessness is an outcome for multiple reasons (Welte, 1992): lack of income fixed with deficient affordable housing and lack of social support, diagnosed mental illness and some anti-socialists that lack basic human interaction skills (Fichter, 1997). Even though these reasons are protrusive alcoholism was cited as the primary reason why homeless people live on the streets and why they are stuck there. (McCormack, 2015).

There is a great significance of alcoholism in homeless, more than one third (38%) of the approximately 100 million homeless people in the world are alcohol dependent (McCormack, 2015). That’s 38,000 000 homeless people in the world and which is 4,923,966 homeless people in Canada who are alcohol dependent (Rodrigue, 2014). The domiciled population appears to have less of a problem with alcohol as compared to those who are homeless (Fichter, 1997). Although the amount of homeless that abstain from drinking alcohol is larger than the abstainers in the domiciled population, the amount of homeless who are heavy drinkers outweighs this fact. (Welt, 1992)

One is more likely to partake in alcoholism at an adolescent age if there is a consistent authoritative figure for them to imitate so that heavy drinking is passed on by generation (Welt, 1992). Some literatures described subjects that drank to numb themselves of the feeling of abandonment, some drank because of their failure in education or lack of employment, or because it made them feel good and it was a good way to past the time (McCormack, 2015). Those who are homeless live day to day, focused on the present because of the rough way of the streets (McCormack, 2015). Because of this tactic, those who are homeless are uncomfortable when asked about the future and evidence of depression and other mental health issues become prevalent (Fichter,1997). The following disorders were more prevalent among homeless alcoholics: affective disorders (total and major depressive episode, manic episode, dysthymia), cognitive impairment and antisocial personality in its original as well as the modified definition. (Fichter, 1997) Having these disorders in the midst of being homeless and having the major health dilemma of alcoholism perpetuates those who are homeless in a downward spiral. Over the three years, alcohol-dependent homeless men showed a tendency to increase their alcohol intake (Dr. Manfred, et al. 2003), Further perpetuating the feeling of hopelessness (Wyman, 1977).

When a poll went out in NYC asking if people believe that everyone has a right to food and shelter, the majority vote was yes. 78% of respondents believed that adequate food and housing are a “fundamental right for every man, woman and child” and that 75% were willing to pay more taxes in order to bring this about. However, the homeless men who abused alcohol and drugs were rated as “very undeserving” of any assistance provided to homeless people in general (Robertson. Et al, 1992).  Treatment of indigent alcoholics continues to be a reinforcement for the perpetuation of their state of homelessness, drunkenness, and total dependence on incarcerating institution (Wyman, 1977).  The unemployment rate was much higher in homeless alcoholics than in household alcoholics. (Fichter, 1997) The negative treatment of homeless alcoholics could also be contributed to the fact that individuals associated alcoholism face with their past of truncated education and their challenges maintaining employment (McCormack, 2015). Statistics show that men manifesting alcoholism at first assessment were more likely to be still homeless at the three-year follow-up (28%) compared with homeless men not manifesting alcoholism (15%). (Fichter, 1997)

Decreasing Alcoholism In Canada

The findings from the present literatures confirm that alcohol abuse is much more common among the homeless and marginally housed than among the general household population of New York State (Welte, 1992). But awareness of personal health concerns prompted respondents to reevaluate their relationship with alcohol as it affected their mortality (Evans, 2015). Indigent alcoholics are capable of determining their own destiny given a supportive environment, understanding of their psychological needs, and their own awareness of the diseases which engulf them-their own as well as those of the institutions supposedly meant to help them (Wyman, 1976). Providing the (mentally ill) homeless only a roof over the head is clearly insufficient. A homeless person placed in an inexpensive apartment may easily feel lonely and bored. The lack of guidance may increase the likelihood to consume alcohol or drugs (Robertson, 1992). The approach made in Canada is a practice called MAP. The urge to drink heavily was omnipresent among respondents. The MAP played an important role in dealing with these urges because the managed supply of alcohol (the hourly ‘dose’) gave respondents a sense of control over their drinking, -monitoring alcohol consumption with a high sensitivity and specificity over a broad time spectrum and indicating individual susceptibility are needed. The practice of drinking a beverage within the program, alcoholic or not, was enough to quell the urge to binge drink and was instrumental in helping respondents make the transition to more moderate drinking and even, for some, periods of abstinence. (Evans, 2015) Because the success of treatment for addiction is highly correlated with internal motivation (McCormack, 2015) these individuals in their current state of indifference have more of a change to recover. Harm reduction approaches with more achievable goals that provide structure and alleviate the demands of street survival are likely to be more acceptable to these individuals who have diminished self-efficacy and motivation for treatment (McCormack, 2015).

Competing statistics

Alcohol abuse among the homeless in New York State cannot be assumed that an increase in alcohol abuse has resulted in the recent increase in homelessness, Homelessness is a common final state arrived at by man different paths. (Welte, 1992) Drinkers among the homeless and marginally housed consume 7.5 times as much alcohol as do drinkers in the general population. There is no clear relationship between the length of time that the respondents have been homeless or marginally housed and their likelihood of being heavier drinker. However, it does appear that the farther out of the mainstream their accommodations are (e.g., sleeping in a public place) the more likely these men are to drink heavily.  But, most homeless/marginally house in [this] study are not heavy drinkers, an alcohol is therefore unlikely to have played any role in their becoming homeless.


The data used in the study are drawn from statistics Canada’s 2014 General Social Survey on victimization. The target population for the GSS is the Canadian population aged 15 and over, living in the provinces and territories. Canadians residing in institutions are not included. The response rate for the survey is 52.9 percent, and the final sample size is approximately 33,089 respondents. All analyses are weighted to account for the complex sampling design of the survey.

The variables from the data set analyzed for this paper are “Homeless-ever been homeless” and “Alcohol consumption- respondents.” The variables of respondents relating to homeless status are categorical, with the two possible valid responses of yes or no, any other choices (ie. skip or refusal, don’t know and not stated) were not examined in this analysis as they were considered irrelevant. The second, dependent variable is the alcohol consumption of the respondent, it is a ordinal level variables that is on a scale from 1-7, 1 being drinking every day- the farther up the scale the lower the alcohol consumption- 7 being never drinking. Responses such as skip or refusal, don’t know and not stated, were considered irrelevant as well.

As the character of these variables are categorical and qualitative, an analysis of variance (ANOVA) is best performed in order to compare the proportion of respondents who answered yes or no to ever being homeless and their different levels of alcohol consumption. This study can infer the relationship between the two variables by examining the relationships between respondents who have ever been homeless and their different levels of alcohol consumption.


The relationship between “ever been homeless” and alcohol consumption of respondents can be examined using ANOVA analysis to determine the percentage of respondents who have ever been homeless along with the differences in means of alcohol consumption between previous or current homeless citizens and those who have never been homeless. The findings describe that the alcohol consumption between those who have been and are homeless and those who have never been homeless is statistically significant with a p-value of 0.000.

Table 1: Descriptive Statistics for Homeless Status and Alcohol Consumption-Respondent

n=28 964 507

Respondents who identify as Homeless Mean/Proportion
Yes 0.17
No 0.83
Alcohol consumption- Respondent Once a week

Table 1 illustrates the proportion of respondents who answered yes or no while excluding answers that did not provide relevant data as indication of homeless or not homeless, as well as the mean for the alcohol consumption among the total 28 964 507 respondents. This frequency analysis shows that 83% of respondents were not homeless and 17% were homeless. Of the individuals who responded to the survey, the mean alcohol consumption was found to be “once a week.”

Table 2:

Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) for Homeless Status and Alcohol Consumption-Respondent

n=28 964 507

Ever been homeless                                       Alcohol consumption- Respondent


Yes                        Once or twice in the past month

No                        Once a week

Table 2 represents an ANOVA analysis of valid respondents, where the difference between the means of alcohol consumption of ever been homeless and those who have never been homeless can be compared. This analysis shows that the mean alcohol consumption for ever been homeless people was “once or twice a month”, while the mean alcohol consumption for never been homeless people was “once a week.” This analysis represents a statistically significant difference (represented by ***) in the means of alcohol consumption between ever been homeless and never been homeless. However, the difference between the means in alcohol consumption between ever been homeless and never been homeless is contrasted to expectations based on the literature review.

Discussion of Findings and Conclusion

The results of the statistical analyses show that although there is a statistically significant difference in the alcohol consumption of homeless people compared to non-homeless people, this difference is not drastic (“once a week” compared to “once or twice a month”). This fits with literature previously discussed only by the fact that there is a difference between alcohol consumption between those who are or were homeless and those who never been homeless, but according to the statistics the contrast between these findings and the literature is that people who have or are currently homeless drink less than those who are general domestic population. Nevertheless, inconsistences in the results is possible. One example found prevalent is the fact that in asking “ever been homeless” include people who are not currently homeless but has previously been. So, when calculating the analysis of variance with these two variables, those who have selected yes in the “ever been homeless” variable and is not currently homeless misconstrues the results of alcohols effect on those who are currently homeless.

Another source of inconsistency would be in the definition of homeless. While statistics Canada refers to homelessness as temporary living- not having a permanent place to stay. For example, those who are in-between moving houses and are temporarily staying up in a motel or one’s friends or family home. Other literatures refer to homelessness as purely living off the streets and has a separate definition for those who have temporary living spaces, such as “marginally housed” which still refers to those who have no family to depend on, but can take aid in shelters.

Finally, the variable of alcohol is controversial in Canada. In some places in Europe alcohol is served with every meal. But in Canada we preserve drinking- other than when in celebration- as a negative thing to correlate with. Some may underreport their true alcohol consumption out of cultural bias, and this would alter true findings. If a respondent were true to their responses it is important that one who identifies with alcoholism to get assistance as to deviate from potential factors such as homelessness.

Future studies focusing on Homelessness and Alcoholism in Canada should better articulate their definition of homelessness as means of people who do not have a home and live on the streets. Statistics Canada should also dig further into the gender and cultural diversity within the homeless community since the earliest studies mentioning race and gender were published in 1992, where people of African descent are referred to as blacks, and women are partially excluded in these researches. Studies should also consider the modern resources in Canada-as mentioned earlier- that assist alcoholism in homelessness, and how these methods could aid addiction- considering marijuana is now legal in Canada- and reintroduce alienated homeless people back into society.

While it is thought that homeless people deal with the illness of alcoholism, in Canada our statistics portray the opposite. In this analysis alcohol consumption was found to have less of an effect on the “ever been homeless” then those who have never been homeless. Therefore, alcohol consumption in Canadian citizens can give insight to doctors and researcher in other countries of how to best approach there alcoholic epidemic and reduce the amount of homeless people on their streets and reduce the amount of alcoholism past down by generation.


  • Rodrigue, Samantha. 2016. “Insights on Canadian Society- Hidden homelessness in Canada”

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    Retrieved November 20, 2018.


    – statistics Canada 2014 homeless
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    65(2): 178-186 Doi:10.1016/j.annemergmed.2014.05.025


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Appendix A

Table 1: Descriptive Statistics if the variables in this study

Descriptive Statistics
N Minimum Maximum Mean Std. Deviation
Alcohol consumption – Respondent 28993718 1 7 4.68 1.794
Homeless – Ever been homeless 29045786 1 2 1.98 .128
Valid N (listwise) 28964506


Appendix B

Table 2: Tests of Between-subjects effects between Alcohol consumption and respondent

Tests of Between-Subjects Effects
Dependent Variable:   Alcohol consumption – Respondent
Source Type III Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig.
Corrected Model 65588.688

1 65588.688 20390.662 .000
Intercept 44966659.757 1 44966659.757 13979544.395 .000
HML 65588.688 1 65588.688 20390.662 .000
Error 93167345.413 28964505 3.217
Total 727273679.000 28964507
Corrected Total 93232934.102 28964506
a. R Squared = .001 (Adjusted R Squared = .001)


Appendix C

Table 3: Parameter estimates between alcohol consumption respondents and Homeless- Ever been Homeless

Parameter Estimates
Dependent Variable:   Alcohol consumption – Respondent
Parameter B Std. Error t Sig. 95% Confidence Interval
Lower Bound Upper Bound
Intercept 4.672 .000 13903.393 .000 4.672 4.673
[HML=1.00] .371 .003 142.796 .000 .366 .376
[HML=2.00] 0

. . . . .
a. This parameter is set to zero because it is redundant.





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