We need a national renewables approach, or some states – like NSW – will miss out

In the absence of federal policy, states are pursing their own renewable targets.Karsten Würth/UnsplashAustralia’s primary federal renewable energy target – to have 33 terawatts of re...

Scott Hamilton, Strategic Advisory Panel Member, Australian-German Energy Transition Hub, University of Melbourne - avatar Scott Hamilton, Strategic Advisory Panel Member, Australian-German Energy Transition Hub, University of Melbourne

A Hippocratic Oath for data science? We’ll settle for a little more data literacy

Bias in, bias out: many algorithms have inherent design problems.Vintage Tone/ShutterstockI swear by Hypatia, by Lovelace, by Turing, by Fisher (and/or Bayes), and by all the statisticians and data sc...

Lewis Mitchell, Senior Lecturer in Applied Mathematics, University of Adelaide - avatar Lewis Mitchell, Senior Lecturer in Applied Mathematics, University of Adelaide

Australia's latest military commitment should spark assessment of how well we use our defence forces

Just when we thought Australia was getting serious about shifting priorities away from the Middle East to its own neighbourhood, the prime minister has announced another Middle East step up. Australia...

John Blaxland, Professor, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University - avatar John Blaxland, Professor, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University

Australia bans video games for things you'd see in movies. But gamers can access them anyway

A screenshot from survival videogame DayZ.Bohemia InteractiveIn the last three months, the Australian Classification Board has “refused classification” for at least four video games &ndash...

Brendan Keogh, ARC DECRA Fellow, Queensland University of Technology - avatar Brendan Keogh, ARC DECRA Fellow, Queensland University of Technology

Victorian changes to gender on birth certificate will not increase sexual violence. Here's why

Under the proposed changes, TGD people in Victoria can change the gender on their birth certificate without having to undergo medical intervention.ShutterstockThe Victorian government is considering c...

Bianca Fileborn, Lecturer in Criminology, University of Melbourne - avatar Bianca Fileborn, Lecturer in Criminology, University of Melbourne

What kind of state values a freeway's heritage above the heritage of our oldest living culture?

The government intends to destroy Djab Wurrung sacred trees and sites to upgrade the Western Highway at the same time as it seeks heritage status for the Eastern Freeway.Allies Decolonising/gofundmeTh...

Libby Porter, Professor of Urban Planning, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University - avatar Libby Porter, Professor of Urban Planning, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University

Why full-fat milk is now OK if you're healthy, but reduced-fat dairy is still best if you're not

The Heart Foundation now backs full-fat milk if you're healthy. But it still recommends reduced-fat milk if you have high blood pressure or heart disease.from www.shutterstock.comThe Heart Foundation ...

Clare Collins, Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Newcastle - avatar Clare Collins, Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Newcastle

Tim Fischer – a man of courage and loyalty – dies from cancer

Tim Fischer aboard a one-off passenger train last month to raise money for the Albury Wodonga Cancer Centre trust fund.Sally Evans/ Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre Trust FundFormer deputy prime ...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

The Strait of Hormuz is the most important oil choke point in the world. Use our interactive map to explore it

Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-NDAfter months of increasing tension between Iran and the US, on Tuesday the Morrison government committed a warship, surveillance aircraft and about 200 troops to...

Wes Mountain, Multimedia Editor - avatar Wes Mountain, Multimedia Editor

Greenland isn't Denmark's to sell: some essential reading for Trump on colonialism

The coast of Greenland is not for sale.ShutterstockDonald Trump is not the first US President to make an offer of buying Greenland from Denmark – but he might be the last.Home of some 56,000 peo...

Felicity Jensz, Research associate professor, University of Münster - avatar Felicity Jensz, Research associate professor, University of Münster

Catholic Church sex abuse: The difference a Pennsylvania grand jury made in lives of survivors

The Pennsylvania grand jury report may have played a role in helping survivors come to grips with their past.AP Photo/Matt RourkeIt has been one year since the Pennsylvania grand jury report named 300...

Brian Clites, Instructor and Associate Director, Case Western Reserve University - avatar Brian Clites, Instructor and Associate Director, Case Western Reserve University

Setting the historical record straight for the critics of The New York Times project on slavery in America

Screen Shot of the New York Times homepage for its series, "1619."New York TimesFour hundred years after the event, the New York Times has published a special project focusing on the first Africans ar...

Kelley Fanto Deetz, Lecturer in American Studies, University of Virginia - avatar Kelley Fanto Deetz, Lecturer in American Studies, University of Virginia

The Amazon is burning: 4 essential reads on Brazil's vanishing rainforest

Nearly 40,000 fires are incinerating Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, the latest outbreak in an overactive fire season that has charred 1,330 square miles of the rainforest this year. Don’t bla...

Catesby Holmes, Global Affairs Editor, The Conversation US - avatar Catesby Holmes, Global Affairs Editor, The Conversation US

Removing mini-shampoos from hotel rooms won't save the environment

The movement to ban miniature toiletries isn't likely to make a dent in the global plastic crisis.vaidehi shah/Flickr, CC BYInterContinental Hotels Group will replace mini-shampoos and conditioners wi...

Yossi Sheffi, Professor of Engineering; Director of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology - avatar Yossi Sheffi, Professor of Engineering; Director of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

imageHousing First is a program that offers housing to homeless drug users -- regardless of whether or not they're drug free -- with a goal of social recovery. Bryan Guilas/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

Over the past decade, drug use in the US has risen dramatically, with heroin use reaching epidemic proportions.

The country’s policy for combating abuse has involved incarceration, abstinence-only treatment, or prescribing medication, like methadone or buprenorphine. While some of these responses have helped many, history and recent statistics have shown these are not long term solutions.

Currently, drug treatment, which receives a fraction of the public funds allotted to fighting drug trafficking (the “War on Drugs”), is largely focused on abstinence-only programs. Rarely does it acknowledge that not all drug use is problematic. Abstinence may be a desired goal for some drug users, but for other users, learning moderation allows them to function. In 2010, when one innovative director of a large New York City drug treatment center introduced “moderation management” as a choice among treatment plans, he lost his job. A few years later moderation was proposed by another prominent leader in drug treatment under a new name: Integrative Harm Reduction Therapy.

The term “harm reduction” refers to practical strategies aimed at reducing the harm caused by drug use. It accepts that drug use is a complex issue with a wide range of behaviors, not all of which are problematic. It emphasizes quality of life and social inclusion, not exclusion. It’s an approach that takes into account the individual user – his or her race, class, gender, and age. While respecting the dignity of drug users, it does not minimize the real harm associated with problematic drug use behavior.

Housing First: a harm reduction model

One harm reduction strategy that challenges traditional drug treatment is the “Housing First” model. However, drug use was not the problem it was originally intended to address.

Housing First was founded and developed by Dr. Samuel Tsemberis in 1992 in New York. His approach provided immediate housing to homeless people with mental health illnesses, whether or not they were abusing drugs or seeking treatment. This policy was in direct opposition to traditional homeless services that adhere to a “Treatment First” model, where a homeless person needs to abstain from using or enroll in a drug rehabilitation program in order to qualify for any type of housing.

Comparison studies of Housing First and Treatment First models consistently found that the homeless using Housing First had longer terms of stable housing than those using Treatment First, with no difference in their levels of drug use. This was the case for all the varying forms of Housing First models, whether they were group homes or single homes.

Morerecentstudies showed that Housing First participants had lower rates of substance use than those forced to go to treatment prior to receiving housing. Public costs for emergency shelters, emergency department visits, hospital health care, and incarceration all fell when Housing First was introduced in Seattle and San Franscisco.

While Housing First is not a panacea for substance abuse, it addresses the failures of abstinence-based housing services, such as chronic relapse and return to homelessness.

Critics of the Housing First model point out that the program relies on accepting only homeless people who have a diagnosed mental health illness and are eligible for social security income supplement (SSI). Funds from an individual’s SSI are required to supplement the costs of housing, yet many of the homeless with substance abuse problems are not eligible for SSI, making them ineligible for Housing First.

However, a 2013 study conducted by Susan Collins in Seattle looked at a group housing project that did not require SSI. This group housing project placed chronically homeless people with severe alcohol problems in group housing with no alcohol use restrictions. She found a significant majority stayed housed, and that active drinkers were more likely to remain in housing than nondrinkers.

Housing First highlights the importance of an individual’s social environment. Among the chronically homeless, drug use is often not the problem, but rather a means to cope with homelessness. Likewise, for many users, drug use isn’t the problem; underlying social issues are. Who we are and what we do is inexorably linked to our family and community.

Housing First works because it focuses primarily on social recovery; it allows drug users to take on responsibility for their social lives. It gives them dignity by providing more opportunities to be involved in conventional life, community networks, and respectable social roles. Whether it is in a single home or a shared home, when the disenfranchised have a place to live, shower, cook and invite people over to socialize, it allows them to reintegrate in society.

Since social problems are the main cause of both substance abuse and homelessness, social solutions are needed.

image

Miriam Boeri received funding from the National Institutes of Health for previous research. She is affiliated with the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology.

Read more http://theconversation.com/being-drug-free-shouldnt-be-a-requirement-to-receive-housing-34176