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J Addict Dis. 2009 Oct;28(4):356-65. doi: 10.1080/10550880903183026.

The power of the drug, nature of support, and their impact on homeless youth.

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  • 1University of California, Los Angeles, School of Nursing, Los Angelos, CA 90095-1702, USA.


The purpose of this study was to explore homeless youths' perspectives on the power of drugs in their lives, the preferred type of drugs used, barriers to treatment, and strategies to prevent drug initiation and abuse. This was a descriptive, qualitative study using focus groups with a purposeful sample of 24 drug-using homeless youth. The results provided insight into the lives of drug-using homeless youth. The most commonly used drugs were marijuana and alcohol. Reported reasons for drug use were parental drug use, low self-esteem, and harsh living conditions on the streets. Barriers to treatment were pleasurable enjoyment of the drug, physical dependence, and non-empathetic mental health providers. Strategies to prevent initiation and abuse of drugs were creative activities, such as art, sports, and music, and disdain for parental/family drug use and abuse. Comparative research is needed on specific personal factors that cause initiation and deterrence of drugs use/abuse among homeless youth.

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