• Alcohol Problems;
  • Drug Use;
  • Intimate Partner Violence;
  • Severity

Background: Particularly for women, level of intimate partner violence (IPV) severity is associated with risk of injury. Previous research suggests that male drinking problems and drug use are key risk factors. Few studies, however, have examined the associations between male and female alcohol problems and drug use and risk of moderate and severe male IPV in general household population samples.

Methods: A multiethnic sample of 1615 married and cohabiting couples was obtained from the 1995 National Study of Couples, a cross-sectional study on alcohol and IPV. We assessed the contribution of past year male and female alcohol-related problems (i.e., drinking consequences and alcohol-dependence symptoms) and illicit drug use to the risk of moderate and severe male IPV. A series of generalized multinomial logit models, with adjustment for sociodemographic and psychosocial covariates, was constructed to assess these associations.

Results: Female and male alcohol-related problems and female drug use, were associated with increased risk of moderate and severe male IPV. Contrary to our expectation, male drug use was not associated with elevated risk for either type of male IPV. Compared with couples residing in low-unemployment neighborhoods, couples residing in high-unemployment neighborhoods were at greater risk for severe, but not moderate, male IPV.

Conclusions: Alcohol-related problems among men and women and drug use among women, appear to be important correlates of male IPV severity among couples in the general population. These findings can aid in IPV screening efforts, the formulation of prevention strategies, and help inform batterer and victim treatment programs.