Homeless Population

An empirical comparison of substance and alcohol dependence patterns in the homeless in Madrid (Spain) and Los Angeles (CA, USA)

Abstract: Background Alcohol and drug use continue to figure heavily in the experience of the contemporary homeless population.The comparison among pattern of use plays a central role in the cross-cultural view of this topic. This article shows the results of comparing the data concerning alcohol and other drug abuse and dependence among the homeless population of Madrid (Spain) and Los Angeles (USA). Methods Data come from two studies carried out independently in each city. Both studies used a comparable methodology which included the same inclusion and diagnostics criteria, representative sampling methods and similar diagnostic structured interviews. In the present study, the data from these two studies are combined in a unique database which allows global and item-to-item comparison between the two studies. Results The results show different sociodemographic profiles for each city. Once controlled for the sociodemographic differences (age, education, current employment status and marital status), the life and 12-month prevalence rates of alcohol and other drug disorders (DSM-III-R) are also different. There are also significant differences in social, emotional and health problems associated with the consumption of alcohol and other drugs. The Madrid and LA samples also present differences in the time patterns of the beginning of the homelessness situation and the onset of alcohol- and drug-related disorders. Conclusions The pattern of results is discussed in the light of the differences in both socioeconomic and cultural among Madrid and Los Angeles which might explain, in turn, differences in the homelessness situation as well as in the alcohol and other drug use patterns.



Abstract: Substance use is highly prevalent among homeless, street-involved young people. Societal estrangement is often associated with substance use, particularly among this population. The current study utilized a descriptive correlational design to identify four domains of social estrangement: disaffiliation, human capital, identification with homeless culture, and psychological dysfunction. These domains were tested to determine their association with alcohol or drug dependence. Interviews utilizing self-report instruments were conducted with 185 young adults aged 18-23 years of age who were receiving homeless services from a community drop-in center. In this sample, the vast majority reported high levels of alcohol and drug use with more than half being identified as dependent on alcohol and/or drugs. Polysubstance use was highly prevalent and most reported marijuana as their drug of choice. Findings indicate that identification with homeless culture was the most highly predictive domain of social estrangement for both alcohol and drug dependency. Implications for services to this population are discussed.


Understanding Dignity in the Lives of Homeless Persons

The current investigation is a planned, systematic study of dignity as critical
to understanding the experience of homelessness and improving services and
programs for the homeless. Specifically, we conducted a thematic content analysis of interviews with 24 homeless men and women to identify their perception
of specific environmental events that validate and invalidate dignity. In addition, we explored the impact that these events have on homeless persons. Eight
types of events were identified that sustain dignity such as being cared for by
staff and having resources available to meet basic needs. Eight types of events
were found that undermine dignity, such as being yelled at or insulted by staff
persons and having staff use rules in an excessive and arbitrary way. Two outcomes followed the sustenance of dignity including increased self-worth and
motivation to exit homelessness. Three outcomes followed the undermining of
dignity including anger, depression, and feelings of worthlessness. The results
suggest that dignity is an important variable to consider in understanding the
experience of homelessness. Policies and programs that support validating the
dignity of homeless persons are encouraged.


A Descriptive Study of Single Adults in Homeless Shelters: Increasing Counselors’ Knowledge and Social Action 

This article is intended to help counselors increase their knowledge and social action for single adults who arehomeless. Findings from a period-prevalence study of 71 single adults in a homeless shelter over 2 years reveal demographics, mental health needs, and sociopolitical issues of this population. Implications including social justiceaction strategies for counselors are discussed.


Racial Differences Among Supported Housing Clients in Outcomes and Therapeutic Relationships 

Abstract: This study examined racial differences between African American and White supported housing clients in clinical outcomes and in their relationships with their landlords, medical and mental health care providers, and religious faith. Housing, mental health, and substance abuse outcomes of 204 White clients and 269 Black clients participating in a national homeless initiative were examined, along with their ratings of their relationships with landlords, health care providers, and religious participation. There were no significant racial differences found on outcomes or on client ratings of the helpfulness of relationships with landlords and health care providers. However, Black participants reported significantly stronger religious faith and religious participation than White participants. Together, these results suggest the religious faith of Black clients should be appreciated as a potential asset in supported housing services and that efforts to maintain racial equality should be continued in the delivery of health services.


Increased Substance Use and Risky Sexual Behavior Among Migratory Homeless Youth: Exploring the Role of Social Network Composition

Abstract: Travelers are a migratory subgroup of homeless youth who may be especially prone to engaging in risky behavior. This study compared the substance use and sexual behavior of young homeless travelers and non-travelers to evaluate the extent and possible sources of travelers’ increased risk. Data came from face-to-face interviews with 419 homeless youth (36.6% female, 34.0% white, 23.9% African American, and 20.0% Hispanic) between the ages of 13 and 24 years (M = 20.1 years, SD = 2.5) who were randomly sampled from 41 shelters, drop-in centers, and street sites in Los Angeles. Travelers were almost twice as likely as non-travelers to exhibit recent heavy drinking, 37% more likely to exhibit recent marijuana use, and five times as likely to have injected drugs. Travelers also had more recent sex partners and were more likely to report having casual or need-based sexual partners and combining sex with substance use. Mediation analyses suggest that travelers’ deviant peer associations and disconnection to conventional individuals and institutions may drive their elevated substance use. Differences in sexual risk behaviors are likely attributable to demographic differences between the two groups. Overall, these differences between travelers and non-travelers suggest different service needs and the need for different service approaches.


The Cultural Self as Locus for Assessment and Intervention with American Indians/Alaska Natives


Do Faith-Based Residential Care Services Affect the Religious Faith and Clinical Outcomes of Homeless Veterans?

Abstract: Data on 1,271 clients in three residential care services funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs was used to examine: (1) how religious-oriented programs differ in their social environment from secular programs, (2) how religious-oriented programs affect the religiosity of clients, and (3) how client religiosity is associated with outcomes. Programs were categorized as: secular, secular now but religious in the past, and currently religiously oriented. Results showed (1) participants in programs that were currently religious reported the greatest program clarity, but secular services reported the most supportive environments; (2) participants in programs that were currently religious did not report increases in religious faith or religious participation over time; nevertheless (3) greater religious participation was associated with greater improvement in housing, mental health, substance abuse, and quality of life. These findings suggest religious-oriented programs have little influence on clients’ religious faith, but more religiously oriented clients have somewhat superior outcomes.[PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]


Access to Primary Care for Homeless Veterans with Serious Mental Illness or Substance Abuse: A Follow-up Evaluation of Co-Located Primary Care and Homeless Social Services

Abstract: To examine the hypothesis that a demonstration clinic integrating homeless, primary care, and mental health services for homeless veterans with serious mental illness or substance abuse would improve medical health care access and physical health status. A quasi-experimental design comparing a ‘usual VA care’ group before the demonstration clinic opened (N = 130) and the ‘integrated care’ group (N = 130). Regression models indicated that the integrated care group was more rapidly enrolled in primary care, received more prevention services and primary care visits, and fewer emergency department visits, and was not different in inpatient utilization or in physical health status over 18 months. The demonstration clinic improved access to primary care services and reduced emergency services but did not improve perceived physical health status over 18 months. Further research is needed to determine generalizability and longer term effects.


Gender Differences in Predictors of Suicidal Thoughts and Attempts Among Homeless Veterans that Abuse Substances

Abstract: This study of 315 male and 310 female homeless military veterans in a V.A. inpatient program designed to treat substance abusers, many of whom also suffer psychiatric disorders, was designed to examine gender differences in factors associated with the odds of having suicidal thoughts, and of attempting suicide, in comparison to being nonsuicidal. A maximum likelihood estimation multinomial logistic regression showed childhood and current sexual and physical abuses, depression, fearfulness, relationship problems, limited social support, and low self-esteem was more strongly associated with suicidal thoughts and attempts for women than for men veterans. Extent of alcohol and other drug abuse, aggression, resilience, self-efficacy, combat exposure, combat-related PTSD, and work problems were more strongly associated with suicidal thoughts and attempts for men than for women. Implications of these findings for V.A. programs are discussed. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

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