Profile of substance use, psychopathology and quality of life amid SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in the population of homeless drug users living in a transitional guesthouse: a cohort study
Background: Homelessness and substance abuse lead to high morbidity and mortality levels. Despite the encouraging findings indicating that housing interventions in people who use drugs (PWUD) mitigate the effects of homelessness, existing literature on the topic is scarce. The present study aimed to describe the profile and course of homeless PWUD during the period of the new coronavirus pandemic in the Athens metropolitan area.
Methods: Participants were recruited from the only transitional guesthouse of the country which was established as part of an innovative action aiming to protect PWUD during the pandemic. Data were collected (June 2020-January 2022) through (i) psychometric self-report instruments (the Symptom Checklist -90R, the World Health Organization Quality of Life - BREF (WHO-QOL-BREF) and (ii) structured interview (socio-demographic/clinical data collection form and an interview on substance use and social functioning (Hellenic Treatment Outcomes Profile-HTOP). Follow up took place two to three months after the initial assessment.
Results: 78 PWUD who received services from the transitional guesthouse took part in the study. Attrition rate was roughly 50%. At both time points participants were found to have higher rates of benzodiazepine, heroin and cannabis use, depression T scores > 60 (indicative of clinical psychopathology) and low levels of quality of life were reported.
Conclusion: Study’s findings merit noting especially in times of a pandemic, where the need for coordinated, tailored and multifaceted interventions to protect vulnerable groups is considered more than necessary.