By Eric King-
Homeless people addicted to drugs need their housing needs addressed before any chance of success in addressing their addiction can be addressed, according to a report. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has today advised the Home Secretary on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to commission a programme of work following the publication of the Drug Strategy.
The report recommends an abstinence based approach of housing provision for those addicted to drugs
including evidence-based and effective harm reduction and substance use treatment approaches with the capacity, resource and flexibility to reach them. It also suggests that services consider people who are experiencing multiple and complex needs and adopt psychologically-informed approaches
It follows a report highlighting a strong reciprocal relationship between being homeless and dug abuse. a The report claims an increased risk of problematic drug use associated with people who experience homelessness, adding that ”there is a higher rate of drug-related deaths, infections among people who inject drugs, and multiple morbidities”. It also states that people who experience homelessness and use substances have particularly complex circumstances and additional risks which require intensive long-term support.
The report goes on to state that a high proportion of people who are homeless and who have drug use issues have experienced multiple adverse childhood experiences (ACE). The UK and devolved governments have statutory responsibilities regarding homelessness, although it is not entirely clear how this relates to drug users who are homeless. Rough sleepers in particular are not well met by mainstream benefit, health and social care and some drug services, it further states.
The report is a logical progression to addressing the complex problems of drug addiction, but does not state how abstinence based housing can be successfully implemented to help drug users. Drug users who abstain from using drugs in a given accommodation could continuously use drugs outside the accommodation. Besides, they could secretly use drugs in the accommodation, especially in toilets. Unless there are cameras to monitor a drug user in every part of an accommodation provided, there is no way to guarantee they will abstain from using drugs in the house
However, it is a useful guide to attempting to address the problem of drug addiction among homeless individuals by recognising the potential damages it causes.