Powered by The Ohio State University

News & Research

Risk for substance use disorders in young adulthood: Associations with developmental experiences of homelessness, Foster Care, and adverse childhood experiences

Substance use disorders (SUDs) pose substantial healthcare and economic costs with the most commonly used substances being alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis. Much research has shown that environmental factors play a role in substance use, especially in young adulthood. The current study looks at how homelessness, foster care, and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) impact young adult’s substance use along with the three most common SUDs.

Participants for this study were recruited from 80 high school and 52 middle school from across the United States. Measures included socio-demographics, ACEs, homelessness, foster care, and substance use disorders. ACE was measured by asking about witnessing abusive actions by a male figure in the home before the age of 18. Homelessness was measured by asking if they have been homeless for a week or longer and foster care was measured by asking if they every lived in a foster home.  The three substance use disorders included alcohol (AUD), tobacco (TUD), and cannabis (CUD) and severity was assessed by asking if they were “mild,” “moderate,” and “severe.”

Results showed that each ACE was lower for participants that were raised in a typical home versus those who were in foster care or experienced homelessness. It was found that AUD in young adulthood was experienced by 21% of those raised in a typical home, 17% of those with history of foster care, and 32% of those with history of homelessness. TUD was highest for those in foster care and those who’s families had been supported twice or more by social welfare were at a higher risk for “severe” TUD. CUD was highest for those who experienced homelessness and endorsing one or more ACEs also increased risk for “severe” CUD. Overall, experiences of homeless in addition to ACEs were associated with the most severe cases of substance use disorders.

Take Away: The current study looks at how homelessness, foster care, and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) impact young adult’s substance use along with the three most common substance use disorders. Participants were recruited from high schools and middle schools from around the country and measures included ACEs, homelessness, foster care, and substance use disorders. The three substance use disorders included alcohol (AUD), tobacco (TUD), and cannabis (CUD). Overall, experiences of homeless in addition to ACEs were associated with the most severe cases of substance use disorders.

Moss, H. B., Ge, S., Trager, E., Saavedra, M., Yau, M., Ijeaku, I., & Deas, D. (2020). Risk for Substance Use Disorders in young adulthood: Associations with developmental experiences of homelessness, foster care, and adverse childhood experiences. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 100, 152175. doi:10.1016/j.comppsych.2020.152175

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Our Founding Partners