The relationship between hazardous alcohol use and violence among street-involved youth

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Abstract

Background and Objectives

Alcohol is a major contributor to premature disability and death among youth, often due to physical trauma, violence, and suicide. The purpose of this study was to longitudinally examine the association between hazardous alcohol use and experiences of violence among a cohort of street-involved youth.

Methods

Data were derived from the At-Risk Youth Study (ARYS), a prospective cohort of street-involved youth who use illicit substances in Vancouver, Canada. The outcome of interest was hazardous alcohol use defined by the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as >14 drinks/week or >5 drinks on one occasion for men, and >7 drinks/week or >4 drinks on one occasion for women. We used Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE) analyses to examine factors independently associated with hazardous alcohol use.

Results

Between 2005 and 2014, 1,149 drug-using youth were recruited and 423 (36.8%) reported hazardous alcohol use in the previous 6 months at study baseline. In multivariable GEE analyses, intimate partner violence (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR] = 1.53, 95% Confidence Interval [95%CI] = 1.12–2.10), and non-partner physical assault (AOR = 1.39, 95%CI = 1.21–1.59) were independently associated with hazardous alcohol use after adjusting for multiple potential confounders.

Discussion and Conclusions

A considerable proportion of youth in this setting reported hazardous alcohol use, which was independently associated with experiencing recent intimate and non-partner violence.

Scientific Significance

Combined interventions for violence and hazardous alcohol use should be integrated into service provision programs for street-involved youth. (Am J Addict 2017;XX:1–7)

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