On January 10, 2024

Public safety, overdoses, substance treatment and housing

 

By Jeanne Zimmerman

Offering treatment and then releasing people back to the streets, while blaming the individual for not “successfully participating” in ongoing treatment sets individuals up for immediate and repeated failures.

 Public safety, overdoses, effective substance treatment and re-housing concern all of us. Kudos to John Bossange for writing in support of rehousing for our sons, daughters, brothers and sisters on the streets of Burlington. Though you may not have a direct personal relationship with individuals in these circumstances, it is certain that you know someone who does. 

One of the most simple and “common-sense” aspects of a solution to this complex problem must include the obvious: comprehensive substance treatment that also gives people who have completed detox and a residential treatment program a place to live. Immediate access upon release from treatment into temporary (hotel?) housing that includes ongoing connection to social services supporting moves to more permanent housing is an excellent place to begin. Such a plan offers the greatest opportunity for successful drug treatment for unhoused individuals, increasing their recovery rates and allowing them to put their energies into rebuilding their lives and the lives of their families. Such a plan also reduces public funding necessary for substance treatment, emergency, social service and police costs, while improving our collective sense of public safety and making our towns more welcoming to all residents and visitors.

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