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Housing First or no housing? Housing and homelessness at the end of alcohol and drug treatment

, : Housing First or no housing? Housing and homelessness at the end of alcohol and drug treatment. International Journal on Drug Policy 36(): 76-84

The rate of alcohol and drug dependency is high among homeless persons in Norway as well as in other Western societies. National homeless surveys also show a certain correlation between discharge from institutions and homelessness. However, the rate of homelessness versus the rate with fixed abode at the end of specialised alcohol and drug treatment has not been examined using quantitative methods. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in alcohol and drug treatment units in the national health services and private clinics. The survey investigates the housing outcome at the end of treatment compared to the situation at the start of treatment using an individual questionnaire for patients ending treatment in a specific time window. Housing outcome is measured by the odds ratio of having a fixed abode at the end of treatment in relation to main intoxicating substance, type of treatment (in- and outpatient), completing versus cutting short the treatment, housing situation at the start of treatment, socioeconomic capital, mental health problems, individual plan, medical assisted treatment, and a set of background variables. The housing versus homeless situation hardly changes during the treatment period. In both a bivariate analysis and a simple multivariate model, principal intoxicating substance is the strongest predictor of having a fixed abode both before and after treatment. However, a more sophisticated analysis indicates that socioeconomic resources and social capital play along with the preferred intoxicating substance as predictors of having permanent housing. After more than a decade of a housing-led national homeless policy, and wide embracement of Housing First approaches in the European Union, homeless persons entering specialised alcohol and drug treatment are likely to return to the streets and hostels at the end of treatment. Access to housing after treatment is very limited for those lacking resources to solve their housing problem without assistance.


PMID: 27588361

DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.07.003

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