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Effectively Treating Homeless Persons with Co-occurring Disorders Involved in the Criminal Justice System

by Rick Esterly, Steven Neumiller, David Freeman, Ali Manwar, Susan Brumbaugh, Jennifer Hardison Walters, Erin O’Brien, Kay Calendine

ABSTRACT: Biopsychosocial challenges confront homeless persons involved in the criminal justice system, especially when they have co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders. In this article, the Criminal Justice Treatment for Homeless Workgroup, a group comprising program and evaluator professionals working in homeless projects funded through the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, focuses on lessons learned while enhancing successful recovery strategies for this vulnerable group of people. Providing services to such homeless persons adds complexity to the treatment of their risks and needs. Specific criminal justice issues include court orders, legal restrictions, access to prescribed medications, medication adherence, probation and parole supervision, information-sharing requests, and navigation of multiple systems with different professional cultures, expectations, and languages. Homeless persons also face challenges to recovery beyond typically addicted persons, such as negative public and professional attitudes, addiction- and criminal-thinking patterns, stressed or destroyed family relationships, drug abuse and other risk behaviors, and  negative criminal justice and street cultures. In this article, five areas emerge from the literature and professional experience that are essential to successful treatment and recovery: communication, collaboration, clinical and recovery interventions, care coordination, and comprehensive evaluation.

Posted Fri, Mar 11 2011 3:52 PM by Tracey Vessels


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