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A Controversial Housing Policy

May 22, 2008
by Gary Enos
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The phrase "harm reduction" remains a politically charged term for many addiction professionals, even though all treatment programs in essence intend to reduce the harms caused by problem substance use. Of course, there are plenty of examples of approaches that for many in the treatment community reinforce negative connotations of harm reduction. How would you evaluate the city of Seattle's publicly funded housing for 75 alcoholics formerly on the street, as chronicled recently in USA Today? The program makes counseling services available to the building dwellers, but the housing does not come with a "zero tolerance" stance on drinking. Alcohol use on the premises is not met with the kind of sanction that would ensue in most treatment centers. If the provision of housing can help lead to less justice and health care system involvement for a population with multiple needs, do you believe those factors justify a departure from the typical rules?

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Gary Enos

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Gary Enos

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Gary A. Enos has been the editor of Addiction Professional since its inception. He...