Courtesy of Riverside

Talking helps young adults overcome addiction

A large amount of young homeless people are adversely affected by substance misuse.

Homeless young adults can turn to drugs or alcohol in order to escape the reality of their situations. It severely damages their health and development, as well as their ability to finish studying, find work, or live independently, and they require a lot of support to recover.

We fund counselling expenses for young adults who have developed substance misuse issues while homeless. By talking through the reasons for their addictions, and understanding what triggers them, they are often able to take control of their circumstances.

Before she became a full-time carer for her husband, Liz was devoted to her career as a drug and alcohol counsellor. Church Housing Trust pays for her expenses so that she can visit and counsel young adults at a foyer for homeless 16 to 21-years-olds. She has volunteered there for two years and counsels up to five of its residents each week.

One of the young adults she works with is 23-year-old Tom*, who had problems with alcohol that were beginning to jeopardise his place at the foyer.

Each week, they discussed how he was feeling and if he could identify any reasons for the times when he couldn’t keep to the limits he set himself. Tom realised that he often drank to alleviate boredom, and he and Liz looked at how to fill his time in a meaningful way instead of turning to alcohol.

Over several months, Tom managed times of complete abstinence, times of reduced drinking and times of complete relapse, which is quite normal. Even on weeks when he drank more than he felt was acceptable, he continued to keep his appointments with Liz.

He felt that talking through each week’s events, and being held accountable by someone, was extremely helpful in getting him to change his own behaviour.

It has been a year, and he is now living fairly independently in one of the foyer’s self-contained flats. After keeping his drinking at an acceptable level, he successfully completed a Princes Trust course, and now volunteers at a food bank on a regular basis.

*Name changed to protect identity.