Victimization and Substance Abuse Link Identified

Victimization and Substance Abuse Link Identified

Substance abuse can be a by-product of a number of different things, including victimization, according to this recent Medical News Today report. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago recently identified this link, suggesting that the link is especially prevalent among those who are gay, lesbian and bisexual.

Tonda Hughes, a professor and interim head of health systems science in the UIC College of Nursing, is lead author on this study and suggests that the correlation between victimization and substance abuse is especially strong among the aforementioned individuals, especially when they are compared with heterosexuals.

To come to these conclusions, this group studied victimization experiences of unwanted sexual activity, neglect, assault with a weapon, physical violence and more across four sexual-identity subgroups. Data was collected nationally from 34,465 adults from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.


The study highlighted that individuals within the sexual-minority group are at a heightened risk for victimization. Those among the lesbian and female bisexual group were more than twice as likely as heterosexual women to report victimization over their lifetime.

These groups and gay men also reported greater instances of victimization experiences. In fact, childhood sexual abuse was reported three times as many times by lesbians as heterosexual women.

In addition to higher rates of victimization, these individuals also reported higher rates of substance abuse. Regardless of sexual identity, women with 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.

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