Homelessness in the United States is recognized as a grave societal problem with longstanding and pervasive implications. A substantial body of research has shown that substance use disorders occur at higher rates among homeless adults than among housed persons. Mental disorders, particularly depressive disorders, are also known to occur at substantially higher rates among the homeless. Given the prevalence of these conditions, it is important that clinicians working with homeless adults have access to reliable and valid assessment tools. The purpose of this study was to examine the usefulness of the Drug Abuse Screening Test-20 (DAST-20) in a sample of treatment-seeking, homeless men engaged in a residential substance abuse recovery program. Other goals included analysis of the relationship of the DAST-20 to the Beck Depression Inventory, Second Edition (BDI-II). The participants were 86 males with a mean age of 43.08 years. The sample was ethnically diverse, tended to be single, and most participants had at least a high school education. This was an archival study. All participants had voluntarily sought psychological services in a university-affiliated clinic at the inner city mission that provided the substance abuse recovery program. In addition to the DAST-20 and BDI-II, the instruments included an intake application form for psychological services and the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). Mean scores on the DAST-20 and BDI-II were 10.07 and 21.94, respectively. Internal consistency reliability was .862 for the DAST-20 and .91 for the BDI-II. There were no statistically significant differences across ethnic groups in mean DAST-20, BDI-II, or AUDIT scores. As predicted, DAST-20 scores were positively correlated with intake form-based measures of drug abuse, supporting the validity of the DAST-20 as a measure of substance-related concerns. The DAST-20 also correlated significantly with the BDI-II, consistent with other research findings. There was a trend (p = .083) for the DAST-20 to be correlated with the AUDIT. Other findings, clinical implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research are also explored. The results supported the reliability and validity of the DAST-20 as a measure of problematic substance use among treatment-seeking homeless men.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; Homeless men -- Mental health; Homeless persons -- Substance use

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Mitchell, Cary;