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Home > An exploration of the role of alcohol in relation to living situation and significant life events for the homeless population in Merseyside, UK.

Ross-Houle, Kim and Venturas, Collette and Bradbury, Andrew and Porcellato, Lorna (2017) An exploration of the role of alcohol in relation to living situation and significant life events for the homeless population in Merseyside, UK. London: Alcohol Research UK.

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Approximately 10% of the population in the UK are estimated to have been homeless ot some point in their lifetime (Crisis 2014) and there were 2,744 rough sleepers identified in England in 2014 (Department for Communities and Local Government 2015). Alcohol misuse is both a cause and effect of homelessness (Shelter 2007) and is considered to be a major health risks amongst the homeless (Crisis 2002).

This research used life history interviews and calendars to explore changes in the research participants’ alcohol consumption in relation to their living situation and significant life events. Additionally, PhotoVoice activities were used to further explore their everyday lived experiences.

Recovery capital, which is derived from the concept of ‘social capital’ (Bourdieu and Wacquant 1992; Teachman et al 1997), refers to the quality and quantity of resources that a person can access in order to initiate and sustain recovery from addiction (Granfield and Cloud 2001). In the context of this research, recovery capital has also been applied to the resources needed in order to overcome homelessness as well as addiction to alcohol.

The findings from this research highlight the importance of social capital during significant life events. It was often a lack of social capital that led to homelessness and increased alcohol consumption. Subsequently, in order to overcome alcohol addiction and homelessness, participants need to develop recovery capital. The sample that was recruited for this project was small, and is therefore not representative of the experiences of the homeless population in general. However, the findings from this research do demonstrate how further research is needed in order to further explore the relationships between alcohol consumption, living situation and significant life events.


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