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Authors

  1. NYAMATHI, ADELINE
  2. FLASKERUD, JACQUELYN
  3. LEAKE, BARBARA

Abstract

This article describes risky drug and sexual behavior and mental health characteristics in a sample of 240 homeless or drug-recovering women and their most immediate sources of social support. Women and their closest support sources both reported a great deal of recent noninjection drug use(56% and 52%, respectively) and lesser, though similar amounts of recent injection drug use (12% and 14%, respectively). More than one third of both groups reported a history of sexually transmitted disease and sexual activity with multiple partners. Fifty-one percent of the women and 31% of their support sources had Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale(CES-D) scores of 27 or greater, suggesting a high level of depressive disorders in both samples. Similarly, 76% of the women and 59% of their support sources had psychological well-being scores below a standard clinical cutoff point. These data suggest that homeless and impoverished women turn to individuals who are themselves at high risk for emotional distress and risky behaviors as their main sources of support.