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Impact of Nursing Intervention on Decreasing Substances among Homeless Youth


Dr. Nyamathi, UCLA, School of Nursing, Room 2–250, Factor Building, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1702. E-mail:


Background: Alcohol use, and in particular, binge drinking, and methamphetamine use is pervasive among homeless youth and remains a social pressure among this vulnerable population. However, there is no compelling evidence that specific interventions for reducing drug and alcohol use are effective for homeless youth.

Objectives: This community-based participatory action pilot study assessed the impact of an intervention study focused on decreasing use of drugs and alcohol among a sample of homeless young adults (N= 154) visiting a drop-in site in Santa Monica, California. The two programs consisted of an HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis Health Promotion (HHP) program led by nurses and an Art Messaging (AM) program led by artists. Six-month follow-up data were obtained from 100 of these individuals.

Results: Findings revealed significant reductions in alcohol and marijuana use and binge drinking in both the HHP and AM programs. However, homeless youth in the HHP program reported additional reductions in methamphetamine, cocaine, and hallucinogen use at 6-month follow-up.

Conclusions: Reductions in drugs and alcohol are important as these substances are linked to HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and other health risks in homeless youth.

Scientific Significance: The successful outcomes of the study intervention validate the utility of nurse-led and artistic health promotion strategies to decrease drug and alcohol use and other risky behaviors in homeless youth populations. (Am J Addict 2012;21:558–565)