Substance rehabilitation for the homeless involves a flow of services that are catered based on a patient’s readiness and choice. Support and encouragement are essential when providing addiction treatment, regardless of a person’s financial situation. A treatment programme will involve experts who will help achieve safe, sustained sobriety.
In this feature, we will discuss the implicating factors of being homeless with an addiction to a certain substance, as well as how homeless individuals can seek help for their dependence.
Homelessness and Substance Abuse Statistics in the United Kingdom
In 2017, 32% of all deaths among the homeless population in England were a result of drug poisoning. 66,040 households were assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness between April and June 2021.
Often, homeless individuals are more likely to be addicted to alcohol and illegal substances when compared to non-homeless individuals. The death rate for non-homeless English citizens is 1%, while within the homeless population it is sadly over 30%.
Addiction may be the reason for their initial removal from a family home, based on court orders for abuse or just because addiction became the leading expense, leading to unpaid bills or instalments, and subsequent evictions.
A home-based programme can help individuals stay away from substance abuse. However, when homeless, neither home-based detoxification nor outpatient detoxification can be safe enough without constant observation.
Some studies indicate that an association exists between mental health problems and homelessness. Symptoms of poor mental health can lead to substance addiction, including the abuse of treatment medication, by intent or not
In addition, many of our homeless face violent assaults, which create long-lasting trauma which many, homeless or not, may try to subdue by self-medicating. Almost eight out of ten British homeless admit to have suffered some form of assault at least once within the year, according to official statistics.
For this reason, it is vital to provide the homeless with appropriate services for their substance rehabilitation needs. It is essential to ensure that information about possible treatments in their area reaches these people on time.
The goal of treatment is to help recover from the addictions they have developed, regain control over their co-occurring conditions and be able to find work and, eventually, leave life on the streets for good.
Dual Diagnosis, Addiction and Homelessness
According to the Department for Communities and Local Government, the most prevalent health issues among homeless individuals in 2012 were substance misuse (62.5%), mental health problems (53.7%) or a co-occurring disorder where an addiction and a mental health problem co-exist (42.6%).
This is an alarming statistic when it comes to the level of care our loved ones may receive if they suddenly become homeless. Finding treatment for a dual diagnosis is hard even within the private sector, however, homeless people rarely have health insurance and most often do not have constant access to even search online for updated resources.
Moreover, many homeless individuals report experiencing barriers in obtaining treatment. For example, they may need to travel to their charity- or NHS-funded outpatient therapist, but the travel expenses are not covered.
The lack of access to treatment is a significant hindrance to engagement. This makes it particularly crucial to offer engaging and flexible services. In addition, the homeless may be particularly susceptible to stigmatization, which complicates their recovery. This is why the substance use disorder community has a critical role in this space. In addition, specialized treatment is essential.
Support from within the Community
Various research studies have revealed that there is significant community support for recovery homes as a way to enforce continued care for substance dependencies. There is also strong local support for the idea of providing services for the homeless.
Despite the difficulties, various treatment programmes offer the benefits of housing and access to other health provision services. Treatment experts offer a wide range of services, including individual counselling, group sessions, a number of holistic therapies and detoxification.
When it comes to the treatment environment, it must be conducive and non-judgmental, regardless of who is attending substance abuse meetings and treatment. Regardless of how much they have, all should feel valued and valid human beings while in treatment.
This is why, in any case of ungrounded discrimination, all homeless people should look for a different service provider and require the local charity or NHS branch to help find a better-suited addiction treatment option.
Homelessness is often related to substance abuse. It may have been an acquired habit before becoming homeless or a developed subsequence. It could be as a result of a traumatic experience that had caused them to resort to adopting an alcoholic lifestyle. Regardless of the cause, substance abuse equally affects the body and mind, causing a variety of health issues, including PTSD and depression. Thus, dual diagnosis treatment for the homeless is necessary to address the underlying causes of and conditions and help our community move forward.