Young people who go through homelessness, especially in countries like Australia, USA, Canada and England, have been known to use and sbude drugs. Prevalence varies across studies when studying substance use among homeless young people. This could be because of the understanding behind homelessness, and the concept in which it’s used for young people who are picked up from the streets and their ways of abusing drugs. Furthermore, this behavior correlated to age and the demography. However, based on the studies conducted, there has been an evidence of high use of substance among the homeless (Camlin & Ennett, 1998; Unger et al, 1998). Particularly, high rates of injectable have been recorded in many studies (Kipke, Unger, Palmer & Edgington, 1996; Kral et al, 1997). These researches show that, disregarding the type of drugs, homeless youth have found these in their possessions. Youth living on the streets, use drugs more often than the ones living under the roof with a family (Yares, Mackenzie, Pennbridge & Cohen, 1988; Miller and Draper, 2001).
Drug Abuse and Family Conflict As Possible Concerns
There has been an acceptance that that drug and alcohol misuse is associated with homelessness with researchers debating about problematic drug and alcohol use as a cause of homelessness (Pathways, 2001). Many services of homeless youth state don’t have enough proof, but still that drug abuse is the cause of homelessness (Mallett et al, 2005). Others suggest that family problems and difficult relations are some of the other problems which forces the youth to abandon their homes and families. (Szirom & Desmond, 2001, p. 27). Department of Human Services (1998) state that family violence is the number one cause which push the youth to abandon their homes. Only 10% to 15% of the youth have been found to abandon homes so that they can use the substance for personal means. (Greenblatt & Robertson, 1993; Noble, 1999; Mallett, Edwards, keys, Myers, & Rosenthal, 2003).
Critical Evidence On Family Conflict
Some reasons like physical, emotional or sexual abuse by a family member(s) have been to be rather critical reasons among the youth to runa way from homes (Cocekett & Tripp, 1995; Chamberlain & MacKenzie, 1998). Social factors too, have been linked with homelessness with several studies supporting it (Christiana, Abram, Clampam, Nayyar & Cotler, 2016), with specifically family violence being the utmost issue (Kral, Molnar, Booth & Watters, 1997). Persistent arguments which grew worse over time (Rew, 2008), neglect and abuse, including being blamed or singled out for no reason, are some of the other reasons for homelessness (Rew, 2008; Tyler & Cause, 2002). Children who have led a life which includes being imprisoned in houses or having to depend on child services or having faced unemployment or belonging to single parents, have higher chances of abandoning homes (Toro et al, 2007). These factors have also been seen among the youth, especially the LGBT youth, but little is researched about their reasons for going homeless (Dunne, Prendergast & Telfrd, 2002)
In a qualitative study done by Marock, Corr and O’Sullican (2011), it was found that household instability and family conflict have impacted participants and their lives from early childhoods. Youth who have seen frequent family tensions and disruptions over many years have higher chance of leaving their homes. Furthermore, more than half of the youth identified with family violence, as something they all went through and thus became the cause of their homelessness. Edidin et al (2012) also reported that children who came from household where parents were drugs addicts or addicted to drinking, homelessness was more common there. Thompnson et al (2010) also reported, like the former, that parental drug abuse is a cause for homelessness among youth. Lack of communication or negative communication among the family members can push a child to abandon their home (Thompson, Cochrane & Barczyk, 2012). Family conflict can often push a person to abandon their home, if there is constant conflict between family members (Mayovk, Corr & O’Sullivan, 2010). Youth who do not receive support from a young age resort to homelessness as they feel less self-sufficient and lack skills for self-development (Tyler & Schmitz, 2013). Furthermore, Thompson, Cochran and Barczyk’s (2012) study highlights the importance of family relationships and their impact on the mental health of the youth prior to homelessness. The impact of family relationship and its effect on youth mental health has been confirmed by Thompson et al (2010), who reported the experiences of youth when they face rejection by family members, thereby causing deep emotional damage (Altena, Brislleslijper-kater and Wolf, 2010)
We found that majority of the studies have little to no research on the effect of drug abuse on homeless youth. Family conflict and drug abuse have been studied with low interest to see their effect on the homeless youth. There is a need to unpack the nature of conflict associated with homelessness. An appropriate framework cannot be planned, if proper research is not conducted in the former areas. This will be a hindrance to plan intervention strategies and support services. The paper will address the gaps, in particular dealing with youths below 17 years of age and family violence being the cause of their homelessness.
Chamberlain, C., & MacKenzie, D. (1998). Youth homelessness: early intervention and prevention. Sydney: Australian
Centre for Equity Through Education.
Unger, J. B., Kipke, M. D., Simon, T. R., Johnson, C. J., Montgomery, S. B., & Iverson, E. (1998). Stress, coping and
social support among homeless youth. Journal of Adolescent Research, 13(2), 134–157.
Kipke, M. D., Unger, J. B., Palmer, R. F., & Edgington, R. (1996). Drug use, needle sharing, and HIV risk among
injection drug-using street youth. Substance Use and Misuse, 31(9), 1167–1187.
Kral, A. H., Molnar, B. E., Booth, R. E., & Watters, J. K. (1997). Prevalence of sexual risk behaviour and substance use
among runaway and homeless adolescents in San Francisco, Denver and New York City. International Journal of
STD & AIDS, 8, 109–117.
Yates, G. L., Mackenzie, R., Pennbridge, J., & Cohen, E. (1988). A risk profile comparison of runaway and
nonrunaway youth. American Journal of Public Health, 81, 208–210.
Pathways:Causes and consequences. (2001). Parity, 14(8), 27–29
Department of Human Services. (1998). Young people and drugs needs analysis. Melbourne, VIC:Drug Treatment
Services Unit, Victorian Department of Human Services.
Szirom, T., & Desmond, K. (2001). Young homeless people and problematic drug use. In Pathways:Causes and
consequences. Parity, 14(8), 27–29.
Ringwalt, C. L., Greene, J. M., & Robertson, M. J. (1998). Familial backgrounds and risk behaviors of youth with
thrownaway experiences. Journal of Adolescence, 21, 241–252.
Mallett, S., Edwards, J., Keys, D., Myers, P., & Rosenthal, D. (2003). Disrupting stereotypes: Young people, drug use
and homelessness. Melbourne:The University of Melbourne.
Cockett, M., & Tripp, J. H. (1995). The Exeter family study: Family breakdown and it’s impact on children. Exeter:
University of Exeter Press.
Toro PA, Dworsky A, Fowler PJ. Homeless Youth in the United States: Recent Research Findings and Intervention Approaches. Paper presented at the 2007 National Symposium on Homelessness Research.2007
Kral AH, Molnar BE, Booth RE, Watters JK. Prevalence of sexual risk behaviour and substance use among runaway and homeless adolescents in San Francisco, Denver and New York City. Int J STD AIDS. 1997;8(2):109–117
Altena, A. M., Brilleslijper-Kater, S. N., & Wolf, J. R. (2010). Effective Interventions for Homeless Youth. American Journal of Preventive Medicine,38(6), 637-645. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2010.02.017
Castellanos, H. D. (2015). The Role of Institutional Placement, Family Conflict, and Homosexuality in Homelessness Pathways Among Latino LGBT Youth in New York City. Journal of Homosexuality,63(5), 601-632. doi:10.1080/00918369.2015.1111108
Christian, J., Abrams, D., Clapham, D., Nayyar, D., & Cotler, J. (2016). Intentions to Move from Homelessness to Social Inclusion: The Role of Participation Beliefs, Attitudes and Prior Behaviour. Social Inclusion, 4(4), 16. doi:10.17645/si.v4i4.643
Dunne, G. A., Prendergast, S., & Telford, D. (2002). Young, gay, homeless and invisible: A growing population? Culture, Health & Sexuality, 4(1), 103-115. doi:10.1080/136910502753389404
Hodgson, K. J., Shelton, K. H., Bree, M. B., & Los, F. J. (2013). Psychopathology in Young People Experiencing Homelessness: A Systematic Review. American Journal of Public Health, 103(6). doi:10.2105/ajph.2013.301318
T. (n.d.). Homeless youth: Characteristics, contributing factors, and service options. Journal of Human Behaviour in the Social Environm Ent. doi:10.1107/s0108270113015370/sk34882csup5.hkl
Mabhala, M. A., Yohannes, A., & Griffith, M. (2017). Social conditions of becoming homelessness: Qualitative analysis of life stories of homeless peoples. International Journal for Equity in Health, 16(1). doi:10.1186/s12939-017-0646-3
Mallett, S., Rosenthal, D., & Keys, D. (2005). Young people, drug use and family conflict: Pathways into homelessness. Journal of Adolescence, 28(2), 185-199. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2005.02.002
Mayock, P., Corr, M. L., & Osullivan, E. (2011). Homeless young people, families and change: Family support as a facilitator to exiting homelessness. Child & Family Social Work, 16(4), 391-401. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2206.2010.00753.x
Rew, L. (2008). Caring for and Connecting With Homeless Adolescents. Family & Community Health, 31. doi:10.1097/01.fch.0000304017.13255.12
Thompson, S. J., Cochran, G., & Barczyk, A. N. (2012). Family Functioning and Mental Health in Runaway Youth: Association With Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 25(5), 598-601. doi:10.1002/jts.21744
Tyler, K. A., & Cauce, A. M. (2002). Perpetrators of early physical and sexual abuse among homeless and runaway adolescents. Child Abuse & Neglect, 26(12), 1261-1274. doi:10.1016/s0145-2134(02)00413-1
Tyler, K. A., & Schmitz, R. M. (2013). Family histories and multiple transitions among homeless young adults: Pathways to homelessness. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(10), 1719-1726. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2013.07.014