Strong Links Between Youth Violence and Substance Use Disorders Found in NIAAA Study

BETHESDA, MD, March 24, 2016—Two CSR researchers have coauthored a paper evaluating links between youth with substance use disorders (SUD) and self- and other-directed violence. This research was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), with the results published in the March 2016 Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Dr. Thomas C. Harford and Mr. Chiung M. Chen joined NIAAA’s Dr. Bridget F. Grant in analyzing data on SUD and youth violence from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) from 2008 through 2013. The data included more than 108,000 American youth ages 12−17. The researchers found that youth who met more SUD diagnostic criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM−IV), were much more likely to behave violently toward themselves and/or others than other youth.

The NIAAA study drew particular attention to combined self-/other-directed violence and examined youth risk behavior in terms of the severity of alcohol, marijuana, and other illicit drug use disorders, as well as nicotine dependence. The risk for combined violence versus no violence was especially high among youth who were female, non-Hispanic Black or mixed race, nicotine dependent, had criminal justice involvement and lower family income, and who met multiple DSM−IV criteria for alcohol-use or drug-use disorders.

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