Abstract: With a lack of accurate statistics it is difficult to assess the true scale of homelessness in the UK, but what is clear is that the homeless are a venerable group and one which is in great need. Substance abuse and morbidity rates were found to be high in the homeless population due to their chaotic lifestyles; this presents a daunting task for health care professionals who face the task of treating the homeless, as a lot of time needs to be invested in them. This can cause difficulty in gaining access to health care.
Introduction: This paper is set out to define homelessness and substance abuse, and explore the services offered to address the health and social issues relating to substance abuse. The paper will focus primarily on the services offered in Chester, Birkenhead, and St. Helens, but will draw on information from national and international studies.
Method: The databases AMED (1985 to 2009), BNI (1985 to 2009), EMBASE (1980to 2009), MEDLINE (1950 to 2009) and the Cochrane Library were searched using key words relating to homelessness and substance misuse. Grey literature was also accessed from the Fade Library. Information was also gathered through meetings with key workers, services workers, service users, and General Practitioners whose surgeries offered special services to the homeless. The book Homelessness; A Primary Care Response(1), and the Department of health booklet, Drug misuse and dependence; UK guidelines on Clinical management(2), have been used for research. The key article chosen for this paper is “How can health services effectively meet the health needs of homeless people?”.(3)