Substance abuse disorders among homeless and runaway adolescents

Kurt D. Johnson, Les B. Whitbeck, Dan R. Hoyt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


This paper presents lifetime and 12-month prevalence rates and comorbidity data for substance abuse disorders among homeless and runaway adolescents. Data are from baseline interviews of a longitudinal diagnostic study of 428 (187 males and 241 females) homeless and runaway adolescents aged 16 to 19 years (mean age = 17.4 year, SD = 1.05). The data were collected by full-time interviewers on the streets and in shelters in eight Midwestern cities of various populations. About two thirds (60.5%) of the runaways met lifetime criteria for at least one of three substance disorders (alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, drug abuse), and nearly one half (48.1%) met 12-month criteria for at least one of the disorders. Nearly all of the adolescents (93%) who met criteria for a substance disorder met criteria for at least one other mental disorder. Those factors most predictive of meeting lifetime criteria include parenting practices, experience of abuse, and association with deviant peers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)799-816
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Drug Issues
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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