Research on alcohol use among victims of physical and sexual violence has focused mostly on women and alcohol use disorders. It is also limited by the relative lack of consideration of victimization over the lifetime and of population data on both men and women. We critically examined associations between lifetime victimization and diverse past year alcohol use patterns and problems and whether these associations differ for men and women.
Population data from the 2005 U.S. National Alcohol Survey (NAS11, n=6919) are reported for 4256 adult men and women drinkers. Logistic regressions assessed associations between physical only or any sexual victimization experienced over the lifetime and past year heavy episodic drinking, drinking to intoxication, alcohol-related consequences and any alcohol use disorder. Models controlled for demographics and parental history of alcohol abuse and examined interactions of gender with victimization.
Associations between victimization experienced over the lifetime and all past year alcohol measures were significant for both men and women. These associations did not differ by type of lifetime victimization (physical only vs any sexual). The association of physical only victimization with drinking to intoxication was stronger for victimized vs non-victimized women compared to victimized vs non-victimized men. This gender difference ceased to be significant when specific victimization characteristics were controlled for.
Lifetime victimization is associated with increased risk for diverse alcohol use problems for both men and women. All prevention and treatment programs should screen men and women for lifetime victimization and diverse alcohol use problems.
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