TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Beginning on April 15th, Breakthrough House will provide additional services to homeless veterans experiencing substance abuse issues.
The local Veterans Administration and the agency have worked for several months planning for the expanded service, and are ready to implement the program in Breakthrough House’s group homes next week.
For more than 10 years, Breakthrough House has provided residential services in group home settings and independent housing settings for veterans with mental health issues, but has not focused on veterans with a ‘dual diagnosis’ (those having both a mental illness diagnosis and substance abuse problem).
The agency staff has received additional training specific to substance abuse and addiction issues, and they will be supported by VA staff who will intervene with veterans when needed, and work with the veterans to help them regain sobriety or receive treatment.
Previously, veterans were suspended from Breakthrough House group homes if they used substances. The expanded services are loosely based on the “Housing First” and “Safe Haven” evidence-based transitional housing programs. According to the Housing First model, research shows that persons with co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse issues have a better chance of success with recovery if they are kept in housing, even when they relapse, rather than being expelled from housing programs.
The cost of the extra staffing to provide these services is being covered by a contractual agreement with the VA. Veterans may stay for six months in group homes, and transition to other housing after that time period.
During 2012, Breakthrough House projects serving about 20 veterans with the expanded program. The agency’s residential program serves a total of 60+ persons annually in group home, semi-independen