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Victimization Linked With Substance Abuse

Emerging research suggests a strong link between victimization experiences and substance abuse.

University of Illinois-Chicago researchers discovered the correlation is especially prevalent among gays, lesbians and bisexuals — more so than in heterosexuals.

The study, led by Tonda Hughes, Ph.D., of the UIC College of Nursing is published in the journal Addiction.

Researchers compared victimization experiences of unwanted sexual activity, neglect, physical violence, and assault with a weapon, across four sexual-identity subgroups — heterosexual, gay or lesbian, bisexual, or “not sure.” It used data collected nationally from 34,635 adults from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

Hughes and her research team wondered if sexual-minority women and men are at a heightened risk for victimization. The results, Hughes said, showed that they are.

Lesbian and bisexual women were more than twice as likely as heterosexual women to report any victimization over their lifetime.

Lesbians, gay men and bisexual women also reported a greater number of victimization experiences than did heterosexuals. Three times as many lesbians as heterosexual women reported childhood sexual abuse.

One possible explanation for this disproportionality, Hughes said, is that lesbians are more willing to acknowledge and report this experience.

“Gays and lesbians tend to be more self-reflective,” she said. “This means they are more likely to think about and report negative or stigmatizing life experiences. Heterosexuals may not be inclined to do so.”

Gay men also had high rates of victimization, with about half of them reporting any lifetime victimization. They reported significantly higher rates of childhood sexual abuse, childhood neglect, partner violence and assault with a weapon than heterosexual men.

Not only are there higher rates of violence and victimization among sexual minorities, but there is also a higher rate of substance abuse, Hughes said. Regardless of sexual identity, women who reported two or more victimization experiences had two to four times the prevalence of alcohol dependence, drug abuse or drug dependence as women who reported no victimization, she said.

The research also concluded that gay, lesbian and bisexual youth may use substances to cope with adverse psychological and interpersonal effects of victimization, increasing the risk for further victimization from others, she said.

Source: University of Illinois at Chicago

Victimization Linked With Substance Abuse

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Victimization Linked With Substance Abuse. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2011/02/25/victimization-linked-with-substance-abuse/23893.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.