Housing eviction a pathway to drug use, Vancouver-based study finds

By Marina Wang

Vancouver’s housing crisis may also be fuelling the city’s drug epidemic, according to a new peer reviewed study by a group of Vancouver-based researchers.

A longitudinal study published earlier this year found that housing eviction had a positive association with an increased risk of crystal meth initiation or relapse.

In “Residential eviction predicts initiation of or relapse into crystal methamphetamine use among people who inject drugs: a prospective cohort study,”[1]William Damon, Ryan McNeil, M -J Milloy, Ekaterina Nosova, Thomas Kerr, Kanna Hayashi; Residential eviction predicts initiation of or relapse into crystal methamphetamine use among people who inject drugs: a prospective cohort study, Journal of Public Health, https://doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/fdx187 researchers found that of a sample of 1257 drug users, over one fifth of participants reported being evicted at least once over an eight year period. After adjusting for confounders, evictions were found to be an independent factor in methamphetamine initiation or relapse.

“This finding suggests that evictions represent a uniquely consequential moment with regard to initiating methamphetamine use among people who inject drugs” reads the study, published in the Journal of Public Health.

Housing eviction has previously been shown to increase the risk of suicide, exposure to violence, psychological distress, and depression. According to the Vancouver-based study, “Evictions are more than just a pathway into homelessness—they are a distinctively consequential life event associated with intense adverse health outcomes.”

The researchers posited that after an eviction, participants turned to methamphetamine use to cope with the many stresses of homelessness. In addition, the relatively low cost of the drug may be especially appealing to those struggling socio-economically. According to the study, a more comprehensive understanding of the transition into methamphetamine use would be necessary in order to target risk factors through policy and program intervention.

In addition, the study suggested that efforts targeted at reducing drug use should focus on housing stability “Our findings support broader structural interventions aimed at ensuring the stability of tenancies of people who inject drugs,” reads the study.

Vancouver’s overdose deaths hit a historical high of 358 in 2017, according Vancouver Coastal Health statistics[2]http://www.vch.ca/about-us/news/overdose-statistics-january-2018.

Many Vancouver renters live with the threat of eviction hanging over their heads.

The City of Vancouver has acknowledged that “Vancouver’s competitive and increasingly expensive rental market has created a situation ripe for abuse. Concerns about renters’ rights were among the most common when we spoke to Vancouver residents as part
of the *Housing Vancouver* public consultation process.”[3]http://council.vancouver.ca/20171128/documents/rr1appendixa.pdf

Vancouver has earned the dubious distinction as the city that gave English language the word “renoviction” – a portmanteau of renovation and eviction commonly referring to the practice of landlords evicting tenants in affordable buildings to make way for luxury condominiums.

“I have been evicted twice in the past year from homes due to landlords deciding to take over the property and demolish or renovate,” a response to the consultation read. “It is next to impossible to find affordable housing without a risk of renoviction.”

[Photo Credit: Danny Roberts]

References   [ + ]

1. William Damon, Ryan McNeil, M -J Milloy, Ekaterina Nosova, Thomas Kerr, Kanna Hayashi; Residential eviction predicts initiation of or relapse into crystal methamphetamine use among people who inject drugs: a prospective cohort study, Journal of Public Health, https://doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/fdx187
2. http://www.vch.ca/about-us/news/overdose-statistics-january-2018
3. http://council.vancouver.ca/20171128/documents/rr1appendixa.pdf

2 Responses to Housing eviction a pathway to drug use, Vancouver-based study finds

  1. nonconfidencevote says:

    Apparently painfully obvious reality requires “study”.

    Which came first, the eviction or the addiction?

    One shouldnt be surprised that addicts get evicted since their addiction is paramount to paying rent on time.

    As for eviction CAUSING addiction……well, I find that somewhat hard to believe.
    Millions of people are evicted each year for millions of different reasons. A vast majority dont fall into addiction to drown their sorrows.
    As for the upswing in death due to overdoses and homelessness.
    Fentynal would be my guess as to THAT skewed result, not chrystal meth.
    Addicts have a far greater risk of dying than the general population. Whether they are at home or living on the street.

    Surveys.
    Taken with a grain of salt.
    I remember reading once that the safest color of car to drive on the road was a pink car since they were involved in the fewest accidents.
    A very quantifiable statistic. Until one realizes……
    When was the last time you saw a pink car on the road.

  2. Debbie says:

    I have to agree, the addiction is what leads to the eviction in most cases. If I were to be evicted the last thing I would turn to would be entering the drug world.
    But the crisis of the housing situation has to change, places need to be more affordable, its out of control.

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