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Drug use and barriers to and facilitators of drug treatment for homeless youth

Authors Adeline Nyamathi, Angela Hudson, Malaika Mutere, Ashley Christiani, Jeff Sweat, Kamala Nyamathi, Theresa Broms

Published 24 October 2007 Volume 2007:1 Pages 1—8

Adeline Nyamathi1, Angela Hudson1, Malaika Mutere1, Ashley Christiani2, Jeff Sweat3, Kamala Nyamathi1, Theresa Broms1

1School of Nursing, 2David Geffen School of Medicine, 3Department of Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Abstract: In the United States, homeless youth are becoming increasingly entrenched in problem substance use, including high prevalence of alcohol abuse and injection use. A total of 54 substance-using homeless youth (18–25 years) participated in focus groups in order to provide their perspectives on barriers to and facilitators of seeking treatment. Participants were recruited from shelters in Hollywood, CA, and from a street-based, drop-in site in Santa Monica, CA. Participants identified personal barriers to treatment, but reported that facilitators of treatment tended to be more systematic. Homeless youth used and abused substances to dim the psychological effects of living on the streets. They appreciated programs that facilitated treatment and rehabilitation such as mentoring, support groups, and alternative choices to substance use. Implications point to the need for further development and research on culturally-appropriate, age-sensitive programs for homeless youth. The experiences of these youth underscore the need for strategic interventions.

Keywords: homeless, substance use, Los Angeles