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A Comparison of Addiction and Transience among Street Youth: Los Angeles, California, Austin, Texas, and St. Louis, Missouri

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to compare measures of addiction and transience among street youth in three disparate urban areas: Los Angeles, California; Austin, Texas; and St. Louis, Missouri. Street youth from Los Angeles (n = 50), Austin (n = 50) and St. Louis (n = 46) were recruited using comparable engagement strategies. Youth were interviewed concerning use of alcohol and other substances and their level of transience. Youth from each city were compared using chi-squares and multinomial logistic regression. Results reveal that youth in each city differed in ethnicity, age, educational status, length of time homeless, and substance abuse and dependence. Comparisons across youth in three cities suggest that length of homelessness and drug dependence/abuse significantly differentiate between low, moderate and high transience. Understanding the heterogeneity of this population as well as the relationship between addiction and transience has implications for providing national substance abuse responses.

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Acknowledgments

Funding for this study was provided in Los Angeles by the Haynes Foundation and in Austin and St. Louis by the Center for Mental Health Services Research at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at the Washington University at St. Louis. We would like to acknowledge Gretchen Heidemann, MSW, from the University of Southern California School of Social Work, and Jennifer McClendon, MSW, from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work for their involvement in the study as research assistants.

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Correspondence to Kristin M. Ferguson.

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Ferguson, K.M., Jun, J., Bender, K. et al. A Comparison of Addiction and Transience among Street Youth: Los Angeles, California, Austin, Texas, and St. Louis, Missouri. Community Ment Health J 46, 296–307 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-009-9264-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10597-009-9264-x

Keywords

  • Substance abuse
  • Addiction
  • Transience
  • Homeless youth
  • Street youth