Dr Hannah Carver is a Lecturer in Substance Use in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Co-Director of the Salvation Army Centre for Addiction Services and Research at the University of Stirling. Her research interests include homelessness, substance use, harm reduction, health inequalities, peer-delivered interventions, and qualitative methodologies.
Managing alcohol problems among people experiencing homelessness in Scotland
People experiencing homelessness and alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are at higher risk of developing acute and chronic health and social harms. They are also more likely to be negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, due to increased likelihood of severe disease/death and reduced access to alcohol. Access to AUD treatment can be challenging and abstinence-based programmes difficult to comply with. Many prefer harm reduction options but there is a lack specifically for this group. Managed alcohol programmes (MAPs) are a harm reduction intervention for those experiencing homelessness and AUDs which provide regular doses of alcohol throughout the day alongside health, housing and social support. This presentation will discuss recent research in Scotland on the feasibility and acceptability of MAPs, drawing on the findings of two mixed-methods studies. Quantitative data highlighted the complexity of physical and mental health problems, levels of alcohol dependency and polysubstance use, and the challenges of accessing alcohol during the lockdown. Qualitative findings highlighted the need for MAPs in Scotland, the key factors required for implementation, and particular challenges and opportunities raised during the pandemic. MAPs have the potential to reduce a range of harms for this group, including COVID-19-related harms.