Homeless drug users technology
1 / 19

Homeless Drug Users & technology - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on
  • Presentation posted in: General

Homeless Drug Users & technology. Dr Caral Stevenson, Professor Jo Neale Oxford Brookes University cstevenson@brookes.ac.uk. “Being without a home is not that big a deal in today’s world, but having connections to the rest of the world is pretty important” (JD- gizmodo.com). Introduction.

I am the owner, or an agent authorized to act on behalf of the owner, of the copyrighted work described.

Download Presentation

Homeless Drug Users & technology

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Presentation Transcript

Homeless Drug Users & technology

Dr Caral Stevenson, Professor Jo Neale

Oxford Brookes University


“Being without a home is not that big a deal in today’s world, but having connections to the rest of the world is pretty important” (JD- gizmodo.com)


  • Environments matter

  • Perceptions of homeless people’s use of technology

    • Dispel some myths

  • What current research is saying

  • Social networks, computers & the internet in hostels

    • Our research project

Homeless people using technology – Are these images surprising?

Homeless people are using technology

  • Common misconception:

    • Homeless are not technologically aware

    • Have no interest in technology

    • If they were interested they would have nowhere to access it

  • Recent research says otherwise…

Technology & homeless people

  • 96% of homeless young people in L.A. frequently use the internet (Young & Rice, 2011)

  • Street homeless people in Philadelphia – half reported computer use in past 30 days (Eyrich-Garg, 2011)

  • Maintain social connectedness, conduct personal business and for leisure (Eyrich-Garg, 2011)

  • Social networking, chat facilities, dating websites , email, search for employment, weather, housing, health conditions, maps, recovery meetings, CVs (Eyrich-Garg, 2011)

  • Research found those with more severe drug use histories – less likely to have used computers (Eyrich-Garg, 2011)

Breaking Free Online (BFO)– Current research project

  • Breaking Free Online is an Internet-based treatment & recovery programme

  • Can enable people to resolve the psychological & lifestyle issues that are driving their dependence on alcohol & drugs

  • Employs a wide range of multimedia formats

  • Contains a structured assessment & wide range of evidence-based psychosocial interventions

  • Can be used as computer-assisted therapy, enabling practitioners, volunteers or peer mentors to deliver structured interventions


  • 30 drug users

    • Heroin, crack cocaine, cocaine powder, cannabis, Methadone, Subutex, benzodiazepines and alcohol

  • 15 Mentors (St. Mungo’s staff members)

  • 15 St. Mungo’s hostels across London & a smaller city

  • 25 male, 5 female

  • 23-62 years, average 43 years

  • Ethnically diverse

  • Range of experience with technology

Client use of technology

  • 28/30 had computer & Internet access provided by the hostel

  • 26/30 had a mobile phone, several of these were Internet enabled, some previously had Internet enabled phones

  • 9/30 had flat screen TVs, 7 had laptops, some had DVD players & 1 had an e-reader, also some had a games console.

  • Used internet for: Email, jobs, social networkssuch as Facebook, Twitter & MySpace, music, film, maps, Google, Wikipedia

  • 12/30 used Facebook, one was about to sign up, one used Google plus, one used Twitter & MySpace

  • 7/30 watched pornography online

  • 7/30 had not used computers previously

  • 30/30 showed interest in technology

Social networks

  • Finding old friends:

    • “When I was a kid I used to come to England like every summer for a couple of months, in a sort of international school, … it was really fun when Facebook came out you know, I decided to type in all these names and you know … they were just all there on Facebook, so that’s really good.” (P9 Age 25)

  • Keeping in touch:

    • “Yes pretty handy really, better than writing a letter and waiting for another one coming down you know, so yeah it’s good for keeping in touch with people you know.” (P12 Age 40)

  • Desire to become involved with social networks:

    • “Yes I would like to, I need to get in touch with a few old people, you know? Because it has become so common it would be a good way to see them, to get in touch with them.” (P7 Age 32)


  • Generally use of computers was for the internet

  • Some however did use word processing programmes for writing their life story, writing poetry, keeping a journal, college work & writing a blog

    • “You know, I am lucky I have got one but do you know what, I wish I could know how to use it, and you know like all the Word things like you do. I have got a thing that you plug in & I’ve got my story on that that I’m writing.” (P13 Age 47)

The Internet

  • Participants’ main use of the computer was to access the Internet

  • Some were very familiar with the Internet

    • “I use it for online banking, so I’m not, as I said I’m not a technophobe, I’m not scared of it.” (P22 Age 39)

  • Some had basic skills and tended to use the internet for things they had become familiar with, YouTube being the most popular

  • Some had no Internet skills. Seven participants had not used computers prior to starting the BFO sessions. These sessions began by setting up an email address – necessary to register for BFO

Reasons for not using technology

  • Safety – some felt that it was unsafe to have details online

  • Inexperience – Barrier

    • “I would like to learn more about it, do you know what I mean, how to like do things on it and that because with me not being able to do the basic things, I just wouldn’t even go on it at all.” (P12 Age 40)

  • Cost – some felt technology was too expensive and so was not accessible for them

  • Frustration – some didn’t have patience and some had to use poor quality equipment which failed regularly

  • Hostel training was sometimes provided in some hostels but trainers weren't always helpful with specific needs or only visited weekly

  • Some hostel computers were dirty, computer rooms were ‘hogged’ by certain people leaving other residents feeling unwelcome. In other hostels, residents were too ‘nosy’ or invaded privacy

Thoughts on Breaking Free Online (BFO)

  • Personality

    • “Yeah, you can use it when you want, there’s no making appointments, there’s no clash with personalities.” (P1, Age 62)

  • Useful compared to a support group

    • “When I do go to my crack recovery group I do interact a lot and have a bit of banter as well, but I have noticed some people falling asleep in the background. With this one, at least you’re doing something, you are interacting, so I think that is the advantage using this method of therapy rather than sitting in a semicircle.” (P4, Age 46)

  • A good place to start

    • “At this point now I’m looking to sort myself out, so I’m just looking to get my brain working again, and just start getting into things, keep myself occupied, start opening myself up a little bit.” (P8, Age 32)

Benefits of BFO

  • A new and different approach to recovery

  • Learning – about recovery as well as about computers

  • Something to do – kills boredom

    • Client takes control of computer

  • Support from mentor

  • Helps staff get to know clients

    • “I was able to learn quite a lot about him in a short amount of time, more than just having a key work session, just chatting. Probably because there’s quite specific questions that I wouldn’t have just come out with probably on a first key work session.” (M3)

    • “It’s a nice prompt for a worker… If you was with a difficult client, that would be quite a nice prompt to use & sort of [a] tool to get somebody speaking, & because it’s the computer asking the questions & not you.” (M3)

Theme of event – Environments matter

  • Client computers – Essential

    • Many hostel residents are online and need an environment that enables them to maintain it

  • Computer & Internet support – Essential – doesn’t have to be structured classes

    • Sometimes specific help is needed

  • Using an online recovery programme can enable homeless drug users to benefit from technology and assist them in addressing their substance use

  • Login