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Subst Abus. 2017 Jan-Mar;38(1):88-94. doi: 10.1080/08897077.2016.1264534. Epub 2016 Nov 29.

Factors associated with substance use in older homeless adults: Results from the HOPE HOME study.

Author information

1
a Division of General Internal Medicine , University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco General Hospital , San Francisco , California , USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The median age of the single adult homeless population is 50 and rising. Although the prevalence of substance use decreases as individuals age, older adults now have a higher prevalence of substance use than older adults did 10 years ago. Homeless individuals have a higher prevalence of substance use disorders than the general population. However, little is known about substance use in older homeless adults.

METHODS:

The objective of the study was to examine prevalence of and factors associated with substance use in a population-based sample (N = 350) of homeless individuals aged 50 and older in Oakland, California. Dependent variables included moderate or greater severity illicit drug symptoms (Alcohol, Smoking, and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) score >3) and moderate or greater alcohol symptoms (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) score >7). Independent variables included demographics, mental health problems, and negative life course events such as physical and sexual abuse, school expulsion, and onset of homelessness.

RESULTS:

Almost two thirds of participants, 64.6%, had moderate or greater severity symptoms for at least 1 illicit drug; 25.8% had moderate or greater severity alcohol symptoms. History of psychiatric hospitalization was associated with moderate or greater illicit drug symptoms (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.9, 1.0-3.6). The presence of major depressive symptoms was associated with moderate or greater severity alcohol symptoms (AOR = 1.8, 1.1-3.0).

CONCLUSIONS:

In this sample of older homeless adults, substance use is common. There is a need for substance use treatment programs, integrated with mental health services, which are targeted towards the needs of older homeless adults.

KEYWORDS:

Aging; homeless persons; substance-related disorders

PMID:
27897965
PMCID:
PMC5472372
DOI:
10.1080/08897077.2016.1264534
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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