Since November 2013, 33 residents living in unsupported temporary accommodation, homeless B&Bs and guesthouses have taken part in 50 interviews and 4 focus groups, generously providing insight into the stark realities of what life is really like in this type of precarious accommodation. One of the major issues that has arisen again and again is the overwhelming presence of drugs and alcohol.
It is widely acknowledged that problems with drugs and alcohol can play a major part in an individuals’ descent into homelessness. Two thirds of homeless people cite drug or alcohol use as a reason for first becoming homeless, and those who use drugs are seven times more likely to be homeless than the general population.1 Furthermore, Drug and alcohol misuse are particularly common causes of death amongst the homeless population, accounting for just over a third of all deaths.2
With this in mind, it is unsurprising therefore that in Shelter’s Report Sick and Tired: The Impact of temporary accommodation on the health of homeless families, it says: “…more than half (56%) were worried about the number of people taking drugs where they lived”.3
25 out of 33 people interviewed in the Just Thinking research reported using drugs or being alcohol dependent. Anecdotal evidence shows that the drug of choice is often heroin. 12 participants have increased their use of drugs or alcohol whilst in temporary accommodation and a further 12 have been tempted to increase or start using drugs or drink more. 9 research participants say they have recovered from previous substance misuse or alcohol dependency issues and only one of these individuals does not feel tempted to restart.
The vast amount of drug use causes problems that go beyond temptations and being drawn into addiction. The harsh reality is that they are impacting on lives of residents everyday; preventing them from living a ‘normal life’. 30 out of 33 participants reported that they found other peoples drinking or use of drugs a nuisance or that it impacted on their own well-being. Theft and fraud takes place to feed addiction, safety is compromised, violence ensues and people can’t sleep or feel at rest in their home.
So why is so hard to be ‘clean and dry’ whilst living in temporary accommodation? What does our research so far say about this?
Click here to read the blog post in full: http://justthinkinguk.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/surrounded/
1 Kemp P et al (2006) ‘Homelessness amongst problem drug users: prevalence, risk factors and trigger events’ Health and Social Care in the Community 14 (4), p319-328
2 Crisis (2011) ‘Homelessness: A silent killer. A research briefing on mortality amongst homeless people’: http://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/publications/Homelessness%20-%20a%20silent%20killer.pdf
3 Shelter (2004). ‘Sick and Tired: The impact of temporary accommodation on the health of homeless families.’p13. https://england.shelter.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/66416/Sick_and_tired.pdf