A University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Nursing study found that nurses can help significantly lessen alcohol and drug use in homeless youth.
According to the press release of UCLA School of Nursing, the study evaluated 154 drug-using homeless youth in Santa Monica, California — many of whom went through a number of life crises, including a history of foster care, a low level of education and a support system of individuals who themselves use drugs and/or alcohol. Researchers tested the effectiveness of two group interventions, one led by nurses and the other led by artists.
The nurse-led intervention program featured three highly interactive group sessions that focused on educating adolescents about disease transmission and vaccinations and providing them with training in self-management and the development of healthy social networks. Participants were encouraged to share their experiences and discuss how they could integrate health promotion strategies into their lives.
After six months, alcohol use decreased 24 percent in the nurse intervention program, while marijuana use declined by 17 percent.
The study also found that “art messaging,” the intervention program led by artists that allowed participants to create messages about health and drug use to influence other drug-using youths, have positive effect on drug and alcohol abuse and other risky behaviors among homeless youth. Alcohol use decreased 25 percent in this program while marijuana use dropped 20 percent.
“Both resulted in significant reductions in the use of alcohol and binge drinking, as well as dramatic decreases in the use of marijuana and, in the nurse-led program, noteworthy decreases in cocaine, methamphetamine and hallucinogens use,” said lead researcher Adey Nyamathi. “These results are very promising, as reducing alcohol and drug abuse in any population is very difficult.”
The research, published in the current issue of the American Journal on Addictions, was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse.