Young people, particularly minors, have a right to expect those involved in their care will provide for them stable conditions in which to develop. The experience of stability creates a sense of coherence (see Giddens, 1991) whereby a young person might come to trust in the reliability of people and the availability of resources and life opportunities. Some degree of stability in life circumstances is a precondition to being able to gain control over the range of health- compromising issues and behaviours that underlie problematic substance use. Rowe (2005) points out that “…often health is not considered a priority in a chaotic life where survival takes precedence” (p32).
Many youth AOD clients have experienced extended periods of instability during their childhood and adolescence, including periods where basic needs may not have been met. This can undermine the young people’s stability and sense of coherence. Naidoo and Wills (2000) explain that only when basic needs are met are people free to pursue their goals and achieve their potential. The capacity to meet basic needs has also been found to be integral to the process of resolving substance use problems for disadvantaged young people (Keys, Mallet & Rosenthal, 2006; Cloud & Grandfield, 2004; Grandfield & Cloud, 2001).
Young people experiencing homelessness are often faced with a struggle to meet basic needs. At times some young people may find aspects of a more transient lifestyle exhilarating and even preferable, but when it is not a choice this is rarely the case. A hand-to-mouth existence and the lack of safe physical and social environments make the short-term relief or alternative experience that substance use offers attractive.
Resilience based intervention involves ensuring that young people have the capacity to meet basic needs and have a stable base on which to develop. This involves working to ensure that young people and those involved in their care have access to sufficient resources and possess the skills and motivation to employ them effectively to maintain stability. Further, young people and their carers can learn how to predict and prevent crisis. Planning and preparation can reduce the number of crises and the degree of harm experienced by clients (Robinson & Miller, 2010).