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Homeless youth need more than treatment for substance abuse, study says
Date:5/12/2008

g the program. They were given a care package of food, toiletries, socks and underwear at the initial interview and received $50 for each follow-up.

The study found that youth who engaged in high-risk behaviors were more likely to remain homeless and be more resistant to change. These teens and young adults reported participating in the most dangerous behaviors including unprotected sex, multiple sex partners, and intravenous drug use.

Not only are they the ones at risk for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases but theyre also entrenched in homelessness. These kids are probably the most vulnerable, Slesnick said.

For these youth, more intensive one-on-one treatment was successful in reducing their homeless days after six months. These sessions focused on identifying and treating the individuals drug use and mental health problems, such as depression or suicidal behaviors.

We have to figure out how to engage those kids who are linked to the street subculture and reengage them back into society through education, employment, and other more socially valued activities, Slesnick said.

Part of the problem lies in the strong connections to other homeless youth who are participating in similar behaviors, she said. These connections play an important role in determining how kids deal with the stress and their likelihood of becoming chronically homeless adults.

Research also suggests that strong family support and identification with an individuals traditional culture is a strong predictor of change. Latino youth in the study were more likely to get off the street after six months than any other group. Slesnick found that this group had higher levels of attachment to family members and stronger support networks, resulting in lower substance abuse and reduced homeless days.

Males were also more likely to reduce their homeless days after six months. Previous studies have suggested that homeless males are more
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Contact: Natasha Slesnick
Slesnick.5@osu.edu
614-247-8469
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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