Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse 25:1 (2016), pp. 78–88.

doi: 10.1080/1067828X.2014.918003


Copyright © 2016 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Used by permission.


Substance use among homeless young people is a pervasive problem, and there have been many efforts to understand more about the dynamics of this health-compromising behavior. The current study examined perceived substance use norms within homeless youths’ social networks utilizing in-depth interviews. The sample included 19 homeless individuals ages 16 to 21. Four elements of substance use within networks emerged: substance use choices, drug use safety issues, encouragement and/or discouragement, and appropriate situations in which substance use is condoned. These findings provide unique insight into the norms associated with drug and alcohol use within homeless youths’ social networks.