Logo of amjphAmerican Journal of Public Health Web SiteAmerican Public Health Association Web SiteSubmissionsSubscriptionsAbout Us
Am J Public Health. 1997 February; 87(2): 229–235.
PMCID: PMC1380799

Substance use among runaway and homeless youth in three national samples.


OBJECTIVES: Standardized estimates of the prevalence of substance use by runaway and homeless youth between the ages of 12 and 21 in various settings were compared with each other and with estimates for youth in the general population. METHODS: Four surveys were used: (1) a nationally representative survey of runaway and homeless youth residing in federally and non-federally funded shelters; (2) a multicity survey of street youth; (3) a nationally representative household survey of youth with and without recent runaway and homeless experiences; and (4) a nationally representative household survey of youth whose previous runaway/homeless status was unknown. RESULTS: For almost every substance, substance use prevalence was highest among street youth. Shelter youth and household youth with recent runaway/homeless experiences reported similar rates. In the household surveys, substance use rates were lowest and were generally comparable. CONCLUSIONS: Many homeless and runaway youth use tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs at rates substantially higher than nonrunaway and nonhomeless youth, indicating a need for comprehensive and intensive substance abuse prevention and treatment services for these youth.

Full text

Full text is available as a scanned copy of the original print version. Get a printable copy (PDF file) of the complete article (1.8M), or click on a page image below to browse page by page. Links to PubMed are also available for Selected References.

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Kipke MD, O'Connor S, Palmer R, MacKenzie RG. Street youth in Los Angeles. Profile of a group at high risk for human immunodeficiency virus infection. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995 May;149(5):513–519. [PubMed]
  • Greenblatt M, Robertson MJ. Life-styles, adaptive strategies, and sexual behaviors of homeless adolescents. Hosp Community Psychiatry. 1993 Dec;44(12):1177–1180. [PubMed]
  • Sherman DJ. The neglected health care needs of street youth. Public Health Rep. 1992 Jul-Aug;107(4):433–440. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Yates GL, MacKenzie R, Pennbridge J, Cohen E. A risk profile comparison of runaway and non-runaway youth. Am J Public Health. 1988 Jul;78(7):820–821. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Kipke MD, Montgomery S, MacKenzie RG. Substance use among youth seen at a community-based health clinic. J Adolesc Health. 1993 Jun;14(4):289–294. [PubMed]
  • Fors SW, Rojek DG. A comparison of drug involvement between runaways and school youths. J Drug Educ. 1991;21(1):13–25. [PubMed]
  • Smart RG, Ogborne AC. Street youth in substance abuse treatment: characteristics and treatment compliance. Adolescence. 1994 Fall;29(115):733–745. [PubMed]
  • Forst ML. A substance use profile of delinquent and homeless youths. J Drug Educ. 1994;24(3):219–231. [PubMed]
  • Ellickson PL, Hays RD, Bell RM. Stepping through the drug use sequence: longitudinal scalogram analysis of initiation and regular use. J Abnorm Psychol. 1992 Aug;101(3):441–451. [PubMed]
  • Kandel D. Stages in adolescent involvement in drug use. Science. 1975 Nov 28;190(4217):912–914. [PubMed]
  • Yamaguchi K, Kandel DB. Patterns of drug use from adolescence to young adulthood: II. Sequences of progression. Am J Public Health. 1984 Jul;74(7):668–672. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Pennbridge JN, Freese TE, MacKenzie RG. High-risk behaviors among male street youth in Hollywood, California. AIDS Educ Prev. 1992 Fall;Suppl:24–33. [PubMed]

Articles from American Journal of Public Health are provided here courtesy of American Public Health Association


Save items

Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...


  • MedGen
    Related information in MedGen
  • PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...