Youth substance use in a context of family homelessness

William M. Bannon, Nisha Beharie, Orly Olshtain-Mann, Mary M. McKay, Leah Goldstein, Mary A. Cavaleri, Marni L. LoIacono, Laura J. Elwyn, Kosta Kalogerogiannis, Ervin Torres, Angela Paulino, Rita Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: This study examines the relationship between family processes and youth substance use debuts among a sample of youth residing in urban family homeless shelters. Method: Data regarding shelter experiences, youth and family characteristics, and the use of three substances (i.e., cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana) were gathered from a sample of youth (11-14 years) and their respective parents residing in an urban family homeless shelter system. Multinomial logistic regression analysis was used to examine the influences on youth substance use. Results: Of the 198 youth included in the statistical analysis, 72% (n = 143) reported no substance use debuts, while 18% (n = 35) indicated one and 10% (n = 20) indicated two to three substance use debuts. Within the final model, greater substance use debut was associated with being older (13-14 vs. 11-12; OR = 7.5; 95% CI = 1.8-30.9) and stressors exposure (OR = 4.8; 95% CI = 1.5-14.7). Furthermore, youth of adult caretakers that reported low levels of the three family processes considered were almost four and a half more likely (OR = 4.4; 95% CI = 1.2-16.5) to have made two to three substance use debuts. Conclusions: Family processes may be a particularly important intervention target toward reducing the rate of substance use among youth residing in urban family homeless shelters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Drug use
  • Homeless shelters
  • Homelessness
  • Interventions
  • Youth and family

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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