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Substance use among current and former foster youth: A systematic review


  • Braciszewski, Jordan M.
  • Stout, Robert L.


Substance use tends to escalate across adolescence and into young adulthood, and can be intensified by experiences with trauma and maltreatment, mental illness, and exposure to parental alcohol and drug use. Despite the disproportionately high levels of these variables among youth placed in the foster care system, relatively few studies have focused on the measurement of substance use in this vulnerable population. The current review summarizes the published literature on alcohol and drug outcomes for current and former foster youth. Specifically, prevalence of use and diagnoses are presented separately, as well as a review of risk and protective factors. Discussion of results addresses limitations and suggestions for improvement in the measurement of these outcome variables.

Suggested Citation

  • Braciszewski, Jordan M. & Stout, Robert L., 2012. "Substance use among current and former foster youth: A systematic review," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(12), pages 2337-2344.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:34:y:2012:i:12:p:2337-2344
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.08.011

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Casanueva, Cecilia & Stambaugh, Leyla & Urato, Matthew & Fraser, Jenifer Goldman & Williams, Jason, 2011. "Lost in transition: Illicit substance use and services receipt among at-risk youth in the child welfare system," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(10), pages 1939-1949, October.
    2. Narendorf, Sarah Carter & McMillen, J. Curtis, 2010. "Substance use and substance use disorders as foster youth transition to adulthood," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 113-119, January.
    3. Dworsky, Amy & White, Catherine Roller & O'Brien, Kirk & Pecora, Peter & Courtney, Mark & Kessler, Ronald & Sampson, Nancy & Hwang, Irving, 2010. "Racial and ethnic differences in the outcomes of former foster youth," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 902-912, June.
    4. Keller, Thomas E. & Salazar, Amy M. & Courtney, Mark E., 2010. "Prevalence and timing of diagnosable mental health, alcohol, and substance use problems among older adolescents in the child welfare system," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 626-634, April.
    5. Cheng, Tyrone C. & Lo, Celia C., 2010. "The roles of parenting and child welfare services in alcohol use by adolescents," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 38-43, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. von Borczyskowski, Annika & Vinnerljung, Bo & Hjern, Anders, 2013. "Alcohol and drug abuse among young adults who grew up in substitute care — Findings from a Swedish national cohort study," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(12), pages 1954-1961.
    2. repec:eee:cysrev:v:83:y:2017:i:c:p:25-32 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Farruggia, Susan P. & Germo, Gary R., 2015. "Problem behavior among older youth in foster care: Examining gender," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 20-30.
    4. Salazar, Amy M. & Roe, Stephanie S. & Ullrich, Jessica S. & Haggerty, Kevin P., 2016. "Professional and youth perspectives on higher education-focused interventions for youth transitioning from foster care," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 23-34.
    5. Salazar, Amy M. & Brown, Eric C. & Monahan, Kathryn C. & Catalano, Richard F., 2016. "Psychometric properties of the Transitions from Foster Care Key Leader Survey," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 91-102.
    6. Zhan, Weihai & Smith, Susan R. & Warner, Lynette C. & North, Fred & Wilhelm, Sara, 2016. "Cigarette, alcohol, and marijuana use among adolescents in foster family homes," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 151-157.

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    Foster youth; Substance use; Review; Aging out;


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