Victimization and substance use disorders in a national sample of heterosexual and sexual minority women and men
Article first published online: 15 SEP 2010
© 2010 The Authors, Addiction © 2010 Society for the Study of Addiction
Volume 105, Issue 12, pages 2130–2140, December 2010
How to Cite
Hughes, T., McCabe, S. E., Wilsnack, S. C., West, B. T. and Boyd, C. J. (2010), Victimization and substance use disorders in a national sample of heterosexual and sexual minority women and men. Addiction, 105: 2130–2140. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.03088.x
- Issue published online: 3 NOV 2010
- Article first published online: 15 SEP 2010
- Submitted 18 September 2009; initial review completed 23 December 2009; final version accepted 21 May 2009
- DSM-IV substance use disorders;
- sexual identity;
- sexual orientation;
Context There is consensus in the research literature that substance use disparities exist among sexual minority women and men; however, few studies have examined risk factors that may contribute to these disparities.
Aims To compare reports of life-time victimization experiences in a US national sample of adult heterosexual and sexual minority women and men and to examine the relationships between victimization experiences and past-year substance use disorders.
Design, participants, measurements The secondary data analyses used 2004–05 (wave 2) National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) data collected in structured diagnostic face-to-face interviews in the United States. Substance use disorders (SUDs) were defined according to DSM-IV criteria and included past-year alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, drug abuse and drug dependence. The sample consisted of 34 653 adults aged 20 years and older; approximately 2% of the respondents self-identified as sexual minority (lesbian, gay or bisexual).
Findings Results showed strong associations between victimization and any past-year SUDs and confirmed findings from several previous studies indicating that, compared with heterosexuals, sexual minority women and men are at heightened risk for life-time victimization. However, prevalence of the seven victimization experiences and the degree of association between individual victimization experiences and SUDs varied substantially across sexual minority subgroups. The childhood victimization variables—especially childhood neglect—showed the strongest and most consistent associations with SUDs. Odds of SUDs were generally higher among both female and male respondents, regardless of sexual identity, who reported multiple (two or more) victimization experiences than among those who reported no life-time victimization, suggesting a possible cumulative effect of multiple victimization experiences.
Conclusions Higher rates of life-time victimization, particularly victimization experienced in childhood, may help to explain higher rates of substance use disorders among sexual minorities. However, more research is needed to understand better the complex relationships among sexual orientation, victimization and substance use.