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Substance Use in the Homeless LGBTQ

There have been many instances as to why an adolescent would end up without a home. Some cases even include being turned away due to their identified sexuality. “It has also been documented that LGBT youth comprise approximately 30–45% of clients served by homeless youth agencies, drop-in centers, outreach, and housing programs.” (Keuroghlian,Shtasel, & Bassuk., 2014.) Considering the range in circumstances which lead these specified individuals to homelessness, some possibilities include abuse (i.e. physical, emotional, sexual), neglect, and even being completely disowned. (Edidin, Ganim, Hunter, & Karnik., 2012.) Although there are some within the LGBT community who use one, or even multiple drugs prior to homelessness, there are also many cases in which they start using once they go out into the streets.

“While lesbian, gay and bisexual youth initiate alcohol and illicit drug use earlier than heterosexual youth, substance use behavior most often begins after becoming homeless, suggesting that substance abuse may be a coping strategy for the numerous stressors of adolescent homelessness.” (Keuroghlian, Shtasel, & Bassuck., 2014.) A reason towards this statement is due to the heightened stress an individual coming to terms with their own sexuality has to struggle with. Some examples of said stress includes judgment, abuse, and even lack of familial support. Although this heightens the risk of that person leaning towards any form of a drug, it only becomes increasingly threatening when also adding the stressor of lacking a home.

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