St Margarets                                     ACNCChristos

Saint Margarets Quitstart

Kicking the habit

For those who have never experienced housing insecurity or homelessness they may believe that drug addiction or alcohol abuse precedes homelessness. Studies have found that this isn’t necessarily true. In most cases of addiction and homelessness, people became homeless before they became addicted to either drugs or alcohol.

Statistics show of those who became homeless only some 10% resulted from alcohol or drug abuse (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare).

However the longer a person is homeless the more likely they are to use drugs or consume alcohol. Studies by the University of Melbourne indicated 57% of the homeless population consumed alcohol at risky levels and 39% had used illicit drugs.

In other words, the correlation is clear: substance abuse is a major contributing factor for many people remaining homeless.


Reasons for substance abuse include:

  • Help alleviate stress of rough sleeping
  • Keep awake at night when chances of victimization increase
  • An escape from physical and emotional pain associated with rough sleeping
  • Low self esteem
  • Boredom
  • Ease of availability

Homeless face numerous barriers in obtaining things they need including to save enough money to get say a deposit for a house or an apartment. It’s challenging to find employment when one doesn’t have an address. A person needs substantially more money for a down payment, first month’s rent or security deposit than they need for drugs.

Homeless women suffer unique gender-based trauma, contributing to higher amounts of drug use than men (Addiction Centre USA).

For those struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, it’s critical to get help before things spiral out of control and cause irreversible damage to health and finances.

Saint Margarets will partner with an established and proven specialist recovery programme group to administer the Foundation’s Quitstart program.

The specialist treatment program will include a medical assessment, detoxification, relapse prevention and rehabilitation in an eight step approach (CASE TEAM) to dealing and helping people with alcohol and drug addiction.

  • Commitment
    For those suffering from substance abuse when engaging with Saint Margarets Women’s Shelter Village a Mutual Understanding Agreement will be required in order to ensure successful treatment and transition to independent living.
  • Assessment
    On entering the program a complete medical assessment will be carried out.
  • Self Esteem
    Many who have abuse issues have low self-esteem which needs to be addressed to improve self-worth. Qualified counsellors will aim to enable people to start to feel confident within themselves and rebuild broken lives.
  • Education/Upskilling
    People are to be offered the chance to engage in activities to enable them to live a normal lifestyle within the community. They will be encouraged to enrol in TAFE or tertiary studies and become involved in the Foundation’s social enterprises.
  • Treatment
    The program is designed to treat the physical cravings of drug addiction with follow up and other medical services to support the general health of patients in developing a drug free lifestyle.
  • Employment
    The Foundation’s 6 step Workstart program is an essential step to independent living and financial security and forms a major aspect of Saint Margarets Transitional Model.
  • Accommodation
    The Foundation’s Safestart program will provide a safe, secure transitional accommodation as a platform to re-establish independent living within community. Once independent accommodation is located Saint Margarets will advance through its Homestart program, as a loan, rental bond monies with the idea of repayment over a 12 month period.
  • Mentoring
    The Foundation’s Helpstart program conducted by qualified and experienced counsellors will provide for independent case management and guidance with continued mentoring and support when people move to independent living. Saint Margarets will operate a post Homestart private social network Alumni called Community Link for graduates and weekly meetings of Beyond Homelessness for support and advice.


Being homeless increases substance abuse