Homeless Opioid Treatment Clients Transitioning to Dependent and Independent Housing: Differential Outcomes by Race/Ethnicity

Subst Use Misuse. 2022;57(6):867-875. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2022.2046097. Epub 2022 Mar 2.


Purpose: Homeless opioid treatment clients who transition into housing generally demonstrate better outcomes, but housing environments vary widely and may not benefit racial/ethnic minority populations equally. We sought to identify how race/ethnicity moderates the association between positive opioid treatment response and moving into dependent or independent living environments. Methods: We used the Treatment Episode Dataset-Discharges (2018-2019) to identify outpatient treatment clients who were homeless at admission and indicated heroin or other opioids as their primary drug of choice (n = 20,021). We defined positive treatment response as a reduction in opioid use between admission and discharge. We used multivariable logistic regression to model treatment response. We included an interaction between housing at discharge (remained homeless [reference], dependent living, or independent living) and race/ethnicity, and adjusted for relevant confounders. Results: Transitioning from homeless to dependent living was positively associated with treatment response among White (aOR = 3.57, 95% CI = 3.15-4.06), Hispanic (aOR = 2.11, 95% CI = 1.55-2.86), and Black clients (aOR = 1.79, 95% CI = 1.41-2.27), but no association was observed for homeless American Indian/Alaska Native clients. Transitioning from homeless to independent living was strongly associated with treatment response among all groups with the strongest association observed among White clients (aOR = 4.70, 95% CI = 4.26-5.19). Conclusions: Interventions aimed at improving OUD treatment outcomes among homeless clients should identify individual and structural factors that support moving into fully housed and independent living environments. Dependent living offers needed support during crises, but should be temporary and priority should be placed on independent, permanent, and autonomous living environments.

Keywords: Opioid use disorder; homelessness; housing; racial/ethnic disparities.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid* / therapeutic use
  • Ethnicity
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons*
  • Minority Groups


  • Analgesics, Opioid