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Patterns of polyvictimization predict stimulant use, alcohol and marijuana problems in a large cohort of sexual minority and gender minority youth assigned male at birth

Xavier Hall, C. D., Newcomb, M. E., Dyar, C., & Mustanski, B.

Psychology of Addictive Behaviors

Objective: Men who have sex with men (MSM) and gender minorities (GM) are more likely to have substance problems and experience various forms of victimization compared to their heterosexual and cisgender counterparts. Polyvictimization allows for the assessment of the combined impact of multiple forms of victimization on health. This study examines the effects of polyvictimization patterns on stimulant use, alcohol and marijuana problems among a large cohort study.

Method: The sample was collected between 2015 and 2019 (n = 1,202). Mean age was 22. The sample was racially diverse (34.4% Black, 29.0% Hispanic/Latinx, 25.8% white, 5.9% other racial identity), 92.4% of the sample were MSM and 7.6% of the sample were GM. Using latent class analysis five qualitatively different polyvictimization classes were identified. Associations between these classes and stimulant use, alcohol and marijuana problems were examined using negative binomial and logistic regressions.

Results: Polyvictimization class significantly predicted alcohol problems and cannabis problems, at baseline as well as methamphetamine, and cocaine use at both time points. The polyvictimization profiles that were characterized by intimate partner violence (IPV), childhood sexual abuse (CSA), and high victimization across types were associated with substance outcomes at baseline. The polyvictimization class that was characterized by report of IPV was associated with cocaine use at 6 month follow-up. The polyvictimization class that was characterized by CSA was associated with methamphetamine use at 6 month follow-up.

Conclusions: Researchers should examine the effects of victimization experiences more holistically and develop substance interventions that take multiple forms of victimization experiences into account.

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