Home > One problem among many: drug use among care leavers in transition to independent living.

Ward, Jeff and Henderson, Zoe and Pearson, Geoffrey (2003) One problem among many: drug use among care leavers in transition to independent living. London: Home Office. Research, Development and Statistics Directorate.

PDF (Home office research: One problem among many) - Published Version

This report is one of five research reports published as part of the Vulnerable Groups Research Programme. The central focus of the programme was to investigate patterns of drug use among groups of vulnerable young people and their access to services. Each project focuses on a different group of vulnerable young people, who tend not to be included in general population surveys. The project reported on here concentrates on young people leaving care including runaways. The four other projects examine: young people involved in sex work; homeless young people; young drug users who are in contact with drugs services; and young people in contact with youth offending teams. Many of the young people across these projects are likely to have had similar backgrounds and vulnerabilities. A number of the studies explore this area and the degree to which the young people are in fact the same population caught at different points in their lives and via different services.

The main aim of this study is to examine the way in which care leavers’ drug use developed during the process of their leaving state care to live independently. Care leavers face the challenge of setting up and managing a home, getting a job, coping financially and developing a support network at a very young age. The Children (leaving care) Act 2000 placed a new responsibility on social services to assist care leavers in this transition to independent living, beyond the age of 16. For a variety of reasons – adverse childhood experiences, a high incidence of psychological and behavioural problems and feelings of loss and fragmentation following time in care – young care leavers are considered particularly vulnerable to having or developing drug problems. Where drug use may have become established while living in state care, risky patterns of drug use may develop as a young person moves towards independence. To date, little research has focused on care leavers and their drug use. This study begins to fill this gap and proposes some areas where drugs services for young care leavers could be improved.

Item Type
Publication Type
International, Report
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Call No
MV14.12, AA2
Home Office. Research, Development and Statistics Directorate
Place of Publication
1 84082 957 5
includes bibliographical references
Accession Number
HRB 1949 (Available)

Repository Staff Only: item control page