Multiple substance use among adolescent physical and sexual abuse victims

Patricia A. Harrison, Jayne A. Fulkerson, Timothy J. Beebe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

203 Scopus citations


Objective: This study was conducted to examine the relationship between substance use patterns among adolescents and their histories of physical and/or sexual abuse. Method: The Minnesota Student Survey was administered in 1995 to 122,824 public school students in Grades 6, 9, and 12. Substance user groups were created based on frequency of use and the number of substances used. Use of individual substances, use of multiple substances, age of first use, and reasons for use were examined with respect to histories of physical and/or sexual abuse. Results: Physical and sexual abuse were associated with an increased likelihood of the use of alcohol, marijuana, and almost all other drugs for both males and females in the three grades surveyed. Use of multiple substances was highly elevated among victims of abuse, with the highest rates seen among students who reported both physical and sexual abuse. Abuse victims also reported initiating substance use earlier than their nonabused peers and gave more reasons for using, including use to cope with painful emotions and to escape from problems. Conclusion: Because of their increased vulnerability, young victims of physical and sexual abuse need improved prevention, early intervention, and treatment services related to substance use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-539
Number of pages11
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1997


  • Adolescents
  • Alcohol/drug abuse
  • Multiple drug use
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Multiple substance use among adolescent physical and sexual abuse victims'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this