176110 Financing cocaine use in a homeless population

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 11:06 AM

David Pollio, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Carol S. North, MD, MPE , Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX
Karin M. Eyrich-Garg, PhD, MPE , School of Social Work, Colleage of Health Professions and Social Work, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Introduction: Previous research has suggested positive associations between legal and non-legal funding sources and drug abuse among homeless populations. Given the high prevalence of cocaine use/abuse in the homeless population, understanding how cocaine use is financed (the purpose of this study) has potential to inform interventions and policy for this difficult-to-treat population.

Methods: The sample (N=400) was randomly recruited for a NIDA-funded homelessness study. Standardized diagnostic interviews and urine drug testing were conducted at intake, 12 and 24 month follow-ups for substance use and abuse. Individuals indicating they had used cocaine in the last year or testing positive for cocaine on any urine screen were coded as using cocaine. In structured interviews, individuals were asked if they had received any income for the previous thirty days from panhandling, employment, illegal activities, welfare payments, disability benefits, family/friend support. Comparisons were made between cocaine users and non-users using t-tests and chi-squares.

Results: Slightly more than half the sample demonstrated cocaine use. Cocaine use was significantly associated with income from panhandling, illegal activities, and employment and not associated with welfare payments, disability benefits, or family/friend support.

Discussion: Given the proportion of individuals working in temporary labor (where individuals are paid daily), homeless individuals using cocaine appear more likely to finance their drug use through means with immediate monetary pay-off, which would thus appear to impede the type of savings necessary to procure housing. From these findings, it would appear that financing cocaine use represents a barrier to achievement of stable housing.

Learning Objectives:
1. Analyze the relationship between cocaine use and income for a homeless population. 2. Describe the impact of cocaine use on housing stability. 3. Discuss the implications of financing cocaine use on services for the homeless population.

Keywords: Drug Use, Homeless

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am primary author of the presentation/paper.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.