Substance abuse is a wide-reaching issue affecting millions of people worldwide. It is an issue particularly troublesome for members of an oppressed class, in this case homeless women, as examined by the authors (Wenzel et al, 2009) in the article. Nearly 50% of homeless women reported drug use, and 32% of them reported binge drinking in Los Angeles, compared to 16% and 17% for drug use and binge drinking among women occupying a low-income house (p. 16).
When examining the nature of the substance abuse among homeless women, the authors (2009) approach the matter using the ecological perspective. This method allows them to examine the substance abusers within their own social context. They specifically target the homeless women’s
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These behaviors included alcohol use, drug use, risky sex, etc (p. 18). After all of these data were collected, a (logistic regression) model was implemented in order to predict days in which binge drinking or drug use occurred. The results of the study confirmed that social networks do play a role in acting as protective or risk factors for substance abusers (p. 20). For example, the model successfully predicted binge drinking by the homeless women in relation to the heavy alcohol use of their alters (social group members), likewise with drug use of the subject and drug use of the subject’s alters (p. 20). Other relationships between alcohol use and drug use were also observed: women reported fewer days of crack use with they had a higher percentage of alcohol users in their networks (p. 20), also an alcohol using social network predicted a lower probability of the subject’s crack use, where a drug using social network predicted the opposite (p. 20). These are cited as differences in the culture of heavy alcohol use, as opposed to heavy drug use (p. 20). Women who met their alters in a work or school setting had a reduced probability of drug use, suggesting that social networks can play a role as a protective factor in the women’s lives (p. 20). The study seems to make some valid observations, but it still isn’t without some flaws. In a study as nuanced as this one is, it seems