The Meaning of Drug Use among Homeless Young People: A longitudinal pathways analysis

Paula Mayock, Mary-Louise Corr

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


    A strong link between drug use and homelessness has long since been documented in the international literature. However, much of the research has concentrated on the direction of the relationship between drug use and homelessness, seeking to establish drug use as a cause or consequence of homelessness, with far less attention to the intersection of drug and homeless ‘careers’. This paper examines the drug and homeless pathways of young people who are participants in a qualitative longitudinal study of homeless youth in Dublin, Ireland. The findings highlight downward drug transitions as associated with exiting homelessness and continued or escalated consumption as associated with remaining homeless. Analyses of the meanings young people attach to drug use over time reveal the importance of housing as an enabler to engaging with treatment and as assisting the process of becoming and remaining drug free. Young people who remained homeless did not accept their situations, as ‘acculturation’ accounts would suggest; rather, they aspired to changing their situations. However, they also face strong barriers to accessing housing which in turn hamper their efforts to address the matter of their drug use. The implications for how the homeless/drug use ‘nexus’ is conceptualised and understood, as well as implications for policy, are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Meaning of High
    EditorsMarije Wouters, Jane Fountain, Dirk J Korf
    PublisherPabst-Science Publishers
    Number of pages150
    ISBN (Print)978-3-89967-831-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • Homelessness
    • Drug use
    • Young people
    • Meanings
    • Longitudinal Qualitative Research


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