Stay-at-home orders from COVID-19 have been forcing people indoors, but for many homeless people across the country, they are without luck.

The homeless population in San Francisco and other areas have been hit hard by the coronavirus. To help with this problem, a program from San Francisco has been housing their homeless population in hotels and other facilities around the city to keep them in quarantine and help stop the spread of the coronavirus. While the program helps with social isolation and quarantining sick individuals, it does have its challenges, especially for those homeless people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Limited Drug & Alcohol Distribution to Quarantined Homeless

While not every homeless person is an addict, this population does tend to have higher rates of addiction than the general population, with about one third of homeless individuals struggling with drug or alcohol problems.1 Because of these substance abuse problems, quarantining individuals and cutting off their access to these substances comes with more challenges.

To help those people in this situation, the San Francisco Department of Public Health has been administering limited quantities of alcohol, medical marijuana, and tobacco to the homeless population in these hotels. The immediate reaction was concern that tax dollars were being used in such a way, but the department has reassured the public that this distribution is being privately funded. While some people may believe these actions to be irresponsible, there are several reasons why providing alcohol and drugs for quarantined homeless individuals is a harm-reduction technique that is more helpful than not.

Addiction is a disease. People who abuse these substances regularly become addicted to them and come to get intense cravings when they are without. These cravings will lead people to do just about anything to get hold of these substances, including going out during a pandemic when they are sick. By providing some alcohol and drugs to these quarantined individuals, these people are less likely to leave where they are staying and venture outside in search of these products. This practice can help reduce the amount of sick people in public and combat the spread of COVID-19.

Another problem with cutting these people off from drugs or alcohol completely is withdrawal. People who are addicted to drugs and alcohol become dependent on these substances and their bodies will experience negative side effects or withdrawal symptoms when they go without. In some cases, like with an alcohol detox, withdrawal symptoms can even  be life threatening. The safest way for people to detox from these substances is at a medical detox center, but for much of the homeless population, this is not an option. The next best thing is to wean the body off of these substances instead of trying to quit cold turkey. Giving these homeless individuals limited quantities of these substances and having licensed physicians monitor their administration could prevent serious withdrawal problems.



At Banyan Palm Springs, we understand that addiction is not something that is easy to overcome on your own, but our Coachella Valley rehab center wants to help. If you or someone you care about is ready to get clean, start today. To get more information about our facility and programs, call us today at 888-280-4763.


Sources:

  1. NCBI - Co-occurring substance abuse and mental health problems among homeless persons: Suggestions for research and practice
 
Alyssa
Alyssa
Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.