3-Minute Case Study: Harm Reduction, Then Recovery
In April of 2016, BHCHP opened the Supportive Place for Observation and Treatment (SPOT): A dedicated room in its ambulatory clinic where up to 10 people at immediate risk of overdose can be monitored. The goal is simple: to give homeless people of Boston another shot at life, and therefore recovery.
Addiction is a critical issue for homeless people in Boston, but as Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) suspected, the people who need help the most aren’t asking for it.
In its efforts to address a rising death toll in the homeless population, BHCHP launched initiative after initiative, but only those who were actively trying to get sober requested help.
Otherwise, patients would come in at risk of an overdose, and staff would have to call 911. Patients would either be taken to an emergency department or be given a large dose of naloxone, sending them into immediate withdrawal. And patients in full withdrawal are too preoccupied with their physical condition to have a conversation about recovery or treatment.
By 2012, a mortality study conducted by BHCHP revealed that overdoses had become the leading cause of death among the homeless.