Victimization experiences and adolescent substance use: Does the type and degree of victimization matter?

Gillian M. Pinchevsky, Abigail A. Fagan, Emily M. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Evidence indicates an association between victimization and adolescent substance use, but the exact nature of this relationship remains unclear. Some research focuses solely on the consequences of experiencing indirect victimization (e.g., witnessing violence), others examine direct victimization (e.g., being personally victimized), and still others combine both forms of victimization without assessing the relative impact of each on substance use. Furthermore, many of these studies only assess these relationships in the short-term using cross-sectional data. This study uses data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN) to explore the impact of experiencing only indirect victimization, only direct victimization, both forms of victimization, and no victimization on substance use at two time points during adolescence. We find that of those adolescents who are victimized, the majority experience indirect victimization only, followed by experiencing both forms of victimization, and experiencing directvictimization only. Each of the victimization experiences were associated with increased contemporaneous substance use, with the strongest effects for those experiencing multiple forms of violence. For all victims, however, the impact on substance use declined over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-319
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Adolescents
  • Community violence
  • Substance use
  • Victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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