Estrangement factors associated with addiction to alcohol and drugs among homeless youth in three U.S. cities

Sanna Thompson, Jina Jun, Kimberly Bender, Kristin M. Ferguson, David E. Pollio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Substance use is highly prevalent among homeless, street-involved young people. Societal estrangement is often associated with substance use, particularly among this population. The current study sought to identify four domains of social estrangement (disaffiliation, human capital, identification with homeless culture, and psychological dysfunction) in relation to alcohol and drug addiction. Homeless young adults were recruited from three disparate urban areas: Los Angeles, CA ( n=. 50), Austin, TX ( n=. 50) and St. Louis, MO ( n=. 46) using comparable research methods and measurement instruments. Findings demonstrated that variables measuring psychological dysfunction and homeless culture predicted alcohol addiction, while institutional disaffiliation and homeless culture predicted drug addiction. Findings affirm distinct patterns of estrangement related to alcohol compared to drug addiction. Understanding these features and the heterogeneity of this population has strong potential for assisting development of programs targeting substance use among this underserved population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)418-427
Number of pages10
JournalEvaluation and Program Planning
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Addiction
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Drug abuse
  • Homeless youth
  • Societal estrangement
  • Street youth
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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