Date of this Version
Although high rates of alcohol and drug use have been found among homeless young people, less is known about who is responsible for their initiation, the reasons for their continued use, and why some individuals eventually transition out of using whereas others do not. Based on qualitative interviews with 40 homeless individuals 19 to 21 years of age in the Midwest, results revealed that the majority of respondents were initiated into substance use by friends and acquaintances, although family also played a significant role. Almost one half of respondents reported using substances to cope with early family abuse, stress, and life on the streets. Additionally, the majority indicated that they had no intentions of quitting. Substance misuse that is left untreated may lead to chemical dependency among homeless emerging adults and may contribute to long-term homelessness.