Substance use Among Street Children in Tehran, Iran


1 Mental Health Department, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University, MD, USA

2 Social Welfare Management Research Center & Social Determinants of Health Research Center, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Clinical Psychology, Tehran University, Tehran, Iran

4 Preventing Development Center, State Welfare Organization of Iran, Tehran, Iran

5 Prevention Development Committee, State Welfare Organization of Iran, Tehran, Iran

6 Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and Health, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

7 Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA


Introduction: Children, who work or live at streets, are one of the HIV high risk groups in Iran, with no comprehensive preventive programs. This study intended to assess substance use among street children in Tehran, Capital of Iran.

Methods: This paper is a part of comprehensive rapid assessment and response (RAR) research on street children in Tehran in 2012-13. Data were collected by interview using questionnaires. Two hundred and seventy 289 street children were selected by time-location sampling in Tehran.

Results: From the total of 259 street children, 59.4% were Iranian and 74% were boys. Prevalence of drug use among street children was 25.6%.  The prevalence of smoking, drug abuse and also drinking alcohol were 8.9% among boys and 1.4% among girls.20.8%, 17.3% and 6.9% of the street children had at least used cigarette, alcohol and drugs once in their lives respectively. There was a significant relationship between consumption of alcohol and other substances among street children with higher age, type of occupation and leaving home experience.

Conclusion: Comprehensive preventive programs targeting street children is recommended to be started at lower ages, with the main focus on young boys among street children. In addition family intervention and improvement of children’s lifestyle could be a main strategy for drug use prevention among this population.