Harbour Housing

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Alcohol & Substance Tolerance

Alcohol & Substance Tolerance

Our Elastic Tolerance Model

We are drug and alcohol tolerant because we do not believe that addiction should be a barrier to housing.

Whilst not all of our residents suffer from substance addiction, we are committed to not discriminating against people who are in entrenched addiction and substance abuse. Public Health England reported that 41% of those rough sleeping had drug misuse needs, and 42% had alcohol misuse needs, demonstrating that it is not possible to ignore this issue when striving to tackle homelessness.

We provide a roof over people’s heads regardless of their current condition. Addiction is more than a mere physical affliction or a free choice. We appreciate the mental, physical and spiritual aspects of it as a whole and that often addiction has its roots in people’s earliest life experiences over which they have no control.

We will not refuse someone housing solely because of their substance use and would only do so if there was unacceptable antisocial behaviour related to their use, or after determining that it would be or has become detrimental for them to be in a drugs and alcohol tolerant environment. We work very closely with the police, the Cornwall Drug and Alcohol Team (DAAT) and the local community to house people safely and ensure our unique tolerance policy is appropriate, timely and safe.

Further, we operate a harm-reduction attitude and require residents with substance abuse issues to engage in counselling with one of our support workers or with a specific drug worker, as well as seeing the nurse for health-checks. We are always working in partnership with other agencies delivering these services in order to give these individuals the best possible chance of improving their situation.

We have pioneered the use of Naloxone, a lifesaving and non-harmful means of saving lives. Naloxone is a medical intervention that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Naloxone is widely available in all of our accommodation to reduce the number of drug-related deaths. In eleven years both staff and clients have prevented 62 individuals from overdosing.

We have provided data for national statistics and have helped to impact research on the efficacy of Naloxone worldwide. We hope that this will continue to encourage other supported accommodation facilities to follow suit.

If someone is dying, save them. If someone is homeless, house them. We do not consider either of these principles controversial. Therefore, it is important that all residents know that they will not be penalised for their role in substance use when there is an incident. We consider saving lives to be more important than punishing people so we need all our clients to know that they can come to us for help and to be honest about what has happened.  This enables us to take necessary steps to ensure everyone’s safety.

We understand that it can be difficult for some people to understand how a substance tolerant environment is possible. We are primarily concerned with the wellbeing of our clients and the community; substance tolerance is the clear answer. Through providing all individuals at risk of homelessness with secure accommodation and access to the appropriate support we are preventing the problem from worsening and providing the opportunity for people to develop their independence and address their problems – something difficult to do on the streets.

Considering all the harm reduction that we have put in place, as long as people do not become antisocial and an immediate danger to themselves or to others, we feel it is better for someone to have a roof over their head and professional support to address their issues than to be using substances on the streets or in unsafe places.