Homeless youth tend to have diverse physical and mental health issues, and substance use is one of the most common conditions this population develops. Genetic and socio-economic reasons for substance abuse development are the most influential (Lopez-Leon et al., 2021). Scientists have identified a number of genes responsible for addiction development, so substance use is often a hereditary health problem. Homeless people often come from one-parent low-income families residing in underprivileged communities. These people tend to have a family history of substance use and domestic violence, which has a serious impact on their mental health, leading to suicidal ideation (Lee et al., 2017). Community-based programs have proved to be effective in helping this cohort, but some communities lack the necessary resources and incentives.
One of the possible community resources can be shelters located near healthcare facilities and staffed with community nurses with a range of qualifications and skills. Mental health and educational services should be provided to these people to help them cope with their health-related issues. Moreover, it is important to establish a collaboration between the healthcare facility, shelter, and non-profit organizations that will inform the target population about the available resources.
It is also necessary to add that the nurses providing care should have a high cultural awareness level to address the needs of the population in question. Homeless substance users are often the representatives of diverse cultural minority groups. Guerrero et al. (2018) note that community-based culturally competent treatment programs have positive implications and lead to the reduction of substance use. Nurses should speak the language of the patients in all senses. There should be no linguistic barriers, so at least some nurses should speak the language their patients use. Nurse practitioners should also understand the cultural peculiarities of their patients (spirituality, religious beliefs, family values, and cultural norms) to find the path to recovery. Spirituality is one of the common domains nurses utilize to encourage patients to restrain from using drugs.
Guerrero, E. G., Song, A., Henwood, B., Kong, Y., & Kim, T. (2018). Response to culturally competent drug treatment among homeless persons with different living arrangements. Evaluation and Program Planning, 66, 63-69.
Lee, K. H., Jun, J. S., Kim, Y. J., Roh, S., Moon, S. S., Bukonda, N., & Hines, L. (2017). Mental health, substance abuse, and suicide among homeless adults. Journal of Evidence-Informed Social Work, 14(4), 229-242.
Lopez-Leon, S., González-Giraldo, Y., Wegman-Ostrosky, T., & Forero, D. A. (2021). Molecular genetics of substance use disorders: An umbrella review. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 124, 358-369.