Alcohol and drug use disorders among homeless veterans: Prevalence and association with supported housing outcomes

This study examines the prevalence of alcohol and drug disorders among homeless veterans entering the Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supported Housing (HUD-VASH) program and its association with both housing and clinical outcomes. A total of 29,143 homeless veterans were categorized as either having: no substance use disorder, only an alcohol use disorder, only a drug use disorder, or both alcohol and drug use disorders. Veterans were compared on housing and clinical status prior to admission to HUD-VASH and a smaller sample of 14,086 HUD-VASH clients were compared on their outcomes 6 months after program entry. Prior to HUD-VASH, 60% of program entrants had a substance use disorder and 54% of those with a substance use disorder had both alcohol and drug use disorders. Homeless veterans with both alcohol and drug use disorders had more extensive homeless histories than others, and those with any substance use disorder stayed more nights in transitional housing or residential treatment in the previous month. After six months in HUD-VASH, clients with substance use disorders continued to report more problems with substance use, even after adjusting for baseline differences, but there were no differences in housing outcomes. These findings suggest that despite strong associations between substance use disorders and homelessness, the HUD-VASH program is able to successfully house homeless veterans with substance use disorders although additional services may be needed to address their substance abuse after they become housed.

Publication Date: 
In Press
Journal Name: 
Addictive Behaviors