UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Does experiencing homelessness affect women's motivation to change alcohol or drug use

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Substance Abuse and Addiction | Women's Health


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Homeless women are at high risk of drug and alcohol dependence and may receive less opportunity for treatment. Our objective was to examine the association between experiencing homelessness and motivation to change drug or alcohol use.

METHODS: Women (n = 154) participants in a study of substance dependence at an urban medical center (69 with some homeless days in the last 90 days; 85 continuously housed at baseline) completed six items rating motivation to change alcohol or drug use (ie, importance, readiness, and confidence) at baseline and in 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-up interviews. Unadjusted and longitudinal analyses controlling for covariates (eg, demographics, insurance status, substance use consequences, mental health status, and participation in treatment) were conducted.

RESULTS: There were no significant differences between women experiencing homeless days versus continuously housed women in the odds of reporting high motivation to change alcohol or drug use, either in unadjusted baseline analyses or longitudinal analyses adjusted for covariates. Covariates that were significantly associated with high importance, readiness or confidence to change behavior were higher life time consequences of substance use, and participation in 12-step programs.

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that clinicians should not make assumptions that homeless women have low motivation to change their substance use.

SCIENTIFIC SIGNIFICANCE AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS: The same opportunities for addiction treatment should be offered to homeless as to housed women.

DOI of Published Version



Upshur CC, Weinreb L, Cheng DM, Kim TW, Samet JH, Saitz R. Does experiencing homelessness affect women's motivation to change alcohol or drug use? Am J Addict. 2014 Jan-Feb;23(1):76-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1521-0391.2013.12066.x. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The American journal on addictions / American Academy of Psychiatrists in Alcoholism and Addictions

PubMed ID