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Addict Behav. 2003 Oct;28(8):1373-83.

Substance use and separation of homeless mothers from their children.

Author information

  • 1Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, 2000 Hearst Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709, USA. czlotnick@aol.com



This study examined whether homeless mothers with substance use problems were more likely to experience separations from their children and whether recent substance use had an impact on the family's ability to receive public entitlement income consistently over the 15-month study period.


This study used an existing longitudinal data set consisting of a county-wide probability sample of 104 homeless women who had children under 18 years old.


Only 29.1% of women had all their children with them throughout the 15-month study period. Mothers who had been separated from their children were more likely to have a current substance use disorder and to have been homeless for at least a year compared to other homeless mothers.


Because many women with recent substance use had already had lost custody of their children, substance use contributed to loss of child custody among mothers who did not have substance use disorders.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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