AddictologyIssue 1/2022
Scientific article
Published by / Citation
International Society of Substance Use Professionals (ISSUP) | London | United Kingdom
Partner Organisation
addictology journal

Homelessness and Substance use: a disturbing link around the world: an ISSUP Webinar Series

The connection between homelessness and substance use is well recognised and an issue that impacts countries around the world. People who experience substance use related issues and homelessness are extremely vulnerable to a range of harms and can find it challenging to access appropriate support that will adequately meet their needs.

In order to address the often-complex issues this population experience, it is important the workforce has appropriate knowledge about the challenges people are facing, the different forms of support and targeted interventions that are available, and means of developing supportive and compassionate organisational systems, which are sensitive to the challenging nature of this kind of work. ISSUP is currently hosting a series of webinars focusing on the topic of substance use and homelessness. The aim of the three-part series is to explore the latest perspectives from research and practice on this issue. 

The first webinar in the series was delivered at the end of January by Lili Lemieux-Cumberlege from Edinburgh University. The presentation, entitled ‘Activated Threat Systems: The Intersection of Homelessness, Trauma, and Substance Use’ explored trauma, homelessness, and substance use through a personal, interpersonal, and systemic lens. Lili shared the latest research on the often-overlapping nature of substance use, trauma and homelessness and the challenges this can present for practitioners working in the field. She then shared her latest research, which focuses on the notion of secondary traumatic stress and burnout, which is frequently present among workers. Using ideas from within compassion focused theory and practice, Lili describes ways in which organisations and wider systems can become “trauma-organised” in order to protect staff and service users. You can view a recording of the webinar through the ISSUP website and read the related reading list here.

The second webinar in the series was presented by Dr Hannah Carver from the University of Stirling. It explored the barriers to support people experiencing problem substance use and homelessness. These barriers, that people experience when trying to access support, were described such as the lack of appropriate services, the service environment, the length of treatment, and COVID-19 pandemic consequences as well as healthcare costs and other barriers.

Drawing on evidence gathered from a range of primary research and systematic reviews, Hannah discussed the interventions to address these barriers.  She highlighted diverse evidence-based interventions to address these barriers, such as services and interventions to meet people’s need, integrated care, peer support and COVID-19 related service changes.

At the end of the webinar, key recommendations for policy, practice and research were shared and presented to the audience.

You can read the related reading list here and view a recording of the webinar on ISSUP website.

The final webinar will focus in on the situation in India and will highlight the latest research from the country on substance use, homelessness, and the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will provide a broad overview of the past and current situation in India and will explore the challenges that people are facing and the unique support systems that are in place to support this group of people.

The webinar will be presented by Dr. Alok Agrawal, an assistant professor at “All India Institute of Medical Sciences” in New Delhi. An overview of the past and the current situation in India and homelessness vulnerabilities will be discussed. Alok will share different types of support and services that people in India have access to, as well as the epidemiology of substance use among homeless populations. He will also communicate the challenges in providing treatment for substance use disorders to homeless substance users as well as the Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.


You can find out more, register for the webinars here.

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Share the Knowledge: ISSUP members can post in the Knowledge Share – Sign in or become a member