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Homelessness , Reports and Publications , Supportive Housing

Substance Abuse Disorders and Homelessness

14 May 2019
National Healthcare for the Homeless Council

While much attention, resources, education and funding are being directed towards addressing the impacts of the opioid epidemic across the nation, the Spring 2019 issue of Healing Hands set out to provide more information around other, non-opioid substances widely used by people experiencing homelessness.

In this article, National Healthcare for the Homeless Council acknowledges the intersectionality of drug use and mental health, stating that roughly “50% of homeless adults with serious mental illnesses have a co-occurring substance use disorder…and [those with co-occurring disorders] are more likely to remain homeless than other groups of people.”

According to the article, the most commonly used non-opioid substances among people experiencing homelessness include alcohol, methamphetamines, cocaine, K2/Spice, and Polysubstance use (the combination of multiple substances). The authors underscore the importance of peer-to-peer services and how stigma and societal pressure can hinder people from a successful recovery from their addictions.

The researchers provide several recommendations to care providers, with the knowledge of what people may be experiencing in conjunction with their housing instability/homelessness, including the systemic, social and legal barriers they may face, and the impact these barriers have on their ability to succeed in recovery. The recommendations suggest how care providers can navigate stigmatizing situations with their clients and offers some best practices on how to have difficult conversations with clients in a person-centered, trauma-informed way.

For more information, click here.