Study Finds Nurses Can Help Reduce Substance Abuse for Homeless Teens

The Join Together Staff recently highlighted information from another new study finding that “nurses can significantly reduce substance abuse in homeless youth.” The study consisted of 154 drug-using homeless youth. Many of these young people had encountered a number of life crises and were tested in three highly interactive group sessions led by nurses.

These three sessions primarily focused on educating these young adults on disease transmission, vaccinations, training in self-management and developing healthy social networks. The participants would discuss their experiences and how they would incorporate their newly acquired strategies into their daily lives, reported.

The study found this nurse-led program gave way to significant reductions in the use of alcohol and binge drinking. It also decreased marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and hallucinogenic use.

Teachers from the California Institute for the Arts worked side-by-side with participants in creating artwork, photographs and videos. The researchers found that this “art messaging” program was also quite effective in reducing substance abuse. While creating the artwork, participants and teachers would discuss good health, risky behaviors and ways to lead a safe and healthy life.

After the program had been in full swing for six months, alcohol use dropped 24 percent in the nurse intervention program, along with 25 percent in the art messaging program. The art group saw a 20 percent drop and the nurse group 17 percent, along with other very notable drops in the hallucinogens, methamphetamine and cocaine groups.

“Homeless youth often justify their use of drugs because of the need to stay awake at night to avoid getting mugged, because they are ‘self-medicating’ to quell the voices in their head, or because of the need to cope with the stress of life,” lead researcher Adey Nyamathi said in a news release. “But the sad truth is that once substance abuse use is entrenched, drugs begin to dominate all aspects of homeless youths’ lives.”

This study can be found in the American Journal on Addictions.

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