Risk factors for substance use among youth experiencing homelessness [2018]

Background: Youth experiencing homelessness are at high risk for frequent substance use. This study examines individual, interpersonal, and contextual factors associated with substance use among such youth, age 13–24.

Methods: Data were collected through computer-assisted structured interviews with participants (N = 474) recruited at service agencies in Los Angeles.

Results: Youth had experienced over two years of homelessness on average. Almost a third used substances frequently; significant risk factors included delinquency, sensation seeking, and ongoing homelessness. Time spent in clubs and organizations was protective.

Conclusions: Providing housing and services to curb delinquency may help protect youth from becoming frequent substance users.

Marguerita Lightfoot, Nancy Wu, Shana Hughes, Kate Desmond, Heather Tevendale & Robin Stevens

Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse, 28 Sep 2018